By: Alexandra Botescu
What is Networking? Networking is creating and nurturing professional relationships. Networking allows you to learn about different industries, careers, organisations and job opportunities.
Networking plays a key role in career advancement. Being smart and hard working is only one part of the equation, knowing the right people who can support you will help you to grow much faster in your professional life. According to Forbes magazine 41% of jobs are awarded through networking showing the importance of starting networking early on.
How to start effectively building your network
There are various ways to start building your network both offline and online. Offline, it is very effective to get in touch with your peers, maintain good relationships with former colleagues and attend conferences or networking events. Online, there is nothing more effective than LinkedIn. On LinkedIn you can either maintain relationships with your former colleagues or gain new valuable connections through your extended network.
8 Golden Rules to Networking
According to Forbes magazine there are 8 rules to effective networking and starting to create professional connections:
Give and you shall receive – Before asking anyone to help you, always try to help that person first. By doing this your counterpart will be more willing to support you later on.
Behave yourself at conferences – When attending networking drinks you should always make sure you are on your best behaviour and not drink too much because the way in which you present yourself is your best business card.
Prepare yourself – When attending a networking event or conference with a potential connection you always need to be informed about the person you are targeting and in order to do this you can gather information either from online platforms such as LinkedIn or by asking your current connections.
Ethics above all – If you find yourself in a situation with the potential to cross moral lines, you need to remember to always behave morally correct as reputation matters and once tarnished rebuilding it is very difficult.
Influencers matter – Develop a relationship with the organisers at different events as they probably have most valuable connections at that respective event and they make the important introductions.
Flashback to high school – It is very important to consistently make an effort to introduce people to each other and make people feel included, in this way they will be more inclined to also include you in their own networks.
Pay attention – When engaging in a conversation, focus on that person instead of browsing around the room for someone better to talk to as nothing destroys a business relationship quicker than seeming to be disinterested.
Promises, promises – If you promise a potential connection to get in touch later, always follow up on your promise as not doing so will cause you to lose credibility.
Networking is an ongoing process and professional relationships, once created, also need to be maintained. One easy way of keeping in touch is by celebrating advancements and key dates, whenever your connection celebrates a key event such as a birthday or a new job it is important to reach out and congratulate them. Another way is by helping them in their own career, if you find an interesting job opportunity, business article or conference event which may help them advance in their career, it essential that you inform them about this. Finally, it is important just to occasionally reach out and arrange a meeting in order to keep the connection going.
In conclusion, it is evident that networking is essential for rapid career advancement. Therefore, networking should be one of the major focus areas of your professional life. It is very important to make the key connections early on, nurture them and know the exact moment when to make use of them.