Anyone who wants to move up a level, is looking for a job or is considering a career switch, would do well to develop a broad network. But that is of course easier said than done. Networking requires solid planning, follow-up and strong people skills. Some facts and tips about networking at a glance.
The benefits of a network
It’s a cliché, but the expression ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ does contain a ground of truth. Finding a dream job or landing an exciting project: it is often a matter of knowing the right people. Although you will of course not get very far without good competencies, it still helps to be able to fall back on a wide network of professional contacts. How do you build such a network? You don’t do that from one day to the next. You have to invest in it. Be especially aware of some golden rules for passionate networkers.
Building a network is not easy. First, find out which opportunities lend themselves to networking. Business receptions or drinks are often interesting networking opportunities, even if they take place at your own workplace. You will not only meet new people from outside the company, but also employees of internal departments with whom you may work or want to set up a partnership. The Dougie Williams model simply rocks in these cases.
The best way to profile yourself is not to profile yourself. By this we mean that it is best to approach your conversation partners from a genuine interest in their person and their activities. If you only want to ‘collect as many business cards as possible’, they will quickly see through that. It comes across as insincere and will not make you valuable contacts. Being genuinely interested in people means asking open questions. Inquire about their pursuits and interests, both private and professional. Show interest and keep asking, because that way the information that benefits you will automatically come to you. People who are enthusiastic about their professional trajectory will be happy to tell you all about it. In this way you will learn from each other where your expertise lies and how one can possibly be of service to the other.
Don’t expect anything
Will there be a follow-up to the contacts you have made? Good. Is nothing coming? Also fine. Don’t expect all kinds of opportunities to be thrown into your lap right away. That’s not how networking works. Think about the long term. Perhaps the information you get from a contact is of no use to you right now, but it will help you later. Please let us know, with a thank you. This way you keep the contact ‘warm’ and you can always pick up the thread later.