Networking helps us find new projects, customers, move to new positions and jobs (75 percent of all jobs are not advertised!) and yet networking is not about any of that.
Networking is about being kind, helping others and building lasting relationships.
We all know that the times when one could expect just do their job well and stay in the same company for the entire life until retirement are long gone.
1. RAISE YOUR VISIBILITY
If you are ambitious and want more out of your career, you need to be more visible. If you want to keep your job and not be replaced by someone more dynamic and creative, same answer: you need to be more visible.
Networking is the fastest way to raise your visibility.
Successful people are known to focus hard on the following: a) manifesting passion and enthusiasm for what they do, b) using their best skills/talents/special expertise, and c) expanding their network.
Who do you know and who knows you? Are you known only in your department/entreprise/industry? Do people in other departments know you and your work?
2. TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
Another important element of networking is what you are known for, and what reputation you enjoy inside the company/organization/industry. In other words, your personal brand. Your personal brand is the impression you leave on people by the work you do and your personality.
Are you in charge of your personal brand or you have no idea what image you project on people? Think about what you would like people to know and respect you for – in terms of talents, skills, competencies, expertise. What one action step can you take in that direction next week, to boost that reputation?
3. JUST DO MORE OF WHAT YOU ALREADY DO OUTSIDE WORK
If the term ‘networking’ puts you off or you are an introvert like Jannet (read her story here), rephrase it in your head as relationship-building. That’s what it is, in its core: building lasting and meaningful relationships. You do that every day, without thinking: chitchatting with another parent at the drop-off, asking your favorite boulanger about her kids, dropping an email to a former colleague who you liked a lot. Keep doing all of that in a more conscious way within your company/organization/business, with the clear goals in mind.
4. EVERY ENCOUNTER IS AN OPPORTUNITY!
While being strategic in networking is important, creating space for serendipity is as important (if not more!). Turn around next time you are on an Eurostar train or a plane and say ‘hello’ – you never know where the new encounter can lead!
5. THINK OF MOTHER TERESA
Next time you network, project your best self – be curious (really curious about the other person and what they want to share), genuine, authentic and heart-centered. And listen. Listen more than speak. By allowing ourselves to be in that warm and open place – curious, warm, generous and genuine – in each interaction with a new (or old) person, we attract and create new connections and opportunities into our life.
Think about greeting each person you meet this week at the workplace or outside with the same smile and warmth you’d give to your loved ones, listen to them with a lot of curiosity, and observe what happens.