My previous business partner, Michelle Yanik, taught me foundational networking strategies back in 2003. I remember asking her what the purpose of networking was, and she answered me with, “networking is the act of helping others”. Since then, networking has saved my business and career countless times.
The key to effective networking is not to expect things from others but to think of it as an act of selflessness.
I compare it to tossing a stone into a pond. When you offer your skills and resources to others, (or in this case, toss a stone into the pond of a network) the energy is returned to you in the form of ripples. If you can establish good relationships with the people in your circles, you can also gain rapport with the people in theirs and good things always come back around!
Here’s an example: As a job seeker, my network has helped me develop my impact as an altruistic and effective recruiter. Recently, a seasoned connection that I had forged with the manager of a local nonprofit introduced me to another dedicated career coach. We’ll call her Clarissa. At our very first meeting, I was enamored by Clarissa’s ambition and drive and knew immediately that she would be a terrific addition to any team. I reached out to a colleague who was organizing classes for job seekers in the area and recommended Clarissa to her. After Clarissa was hired, she proved to be an outstanding member of her new team and my relationship with her supervisor strengthened as well as my relationship with Clarissa. Clarissa and I are now working together on an exciting project, and as you can see, you never know how your healthy relationships can turn into profitable ones!
Once you feel like you’ve mastered the art of valuing and nurturing your relationships you might want to also consider “Strategic Networking”. This type of networking includes identifying your long-term goal, the people and organizations that can help you reach that goal and accepting the non-linear process that it might take to get there. Understanding that your strategic networking efforts may not operate in one manner (like getting referrals or collaborating) is vital to the process of building a network. Some strategic networking approaches involve 5 to 12 months of commitment! Still, having a deliberate approach to forming meaningful relationships can help connections and rewards come sooner to you and your peers.
I have found that networking skills come in many forms. They can spawn from a willingness to make introductions, provide information, insight and encouragement. It can even be asking someone to do a favor for a colleague or friend. Whatever the task, remember to always approach others with selflessness; I assure you, it always comes back around.
If you feel you need a Career Coach to get better results, Smart Moms can help. Complete the Interest Form and we will be in touch.