This is the first article in a series about networking that we will post on our blog. This activity has been around for a while, and it is increasingly becoming more and more important. This development is part of the emergence of a number of easy to use tools that help people conduct business. Mastering the art of networking and drawing on the profiles of your connections is becoming an indispensible tool for successful entrepreneurs. To respond to this type of topic, nothing is better than asking the simple questions: Who? What? Where? How? And, why?
What is networking?
Before jumping into things, we should start by explaining what “networking” is. It is simply getting to know, collaborating, and creating exchanges with new people with the goal of establishing a short-term or long-term connection. These connections are not necessarily restricted to professional settings. Building up your connections can be useful regardless of the context, and in all forms, this can be considered networking. It is important to invest in making connections with people that are available to you such as friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and family to be able to draw on any kind of support you might need from them in the future.
How do you engage in networking?
Now, the question is how? How do you take advantage of your network. You go into the exchange simply by opening yourself up to people. It is typically easy to find something in common with a person once you engage in a conversation. Then, the two speakers can present themselves to each other. After an introduction, you can determine if the person would be a useful contact for you or if you would be able to be of use to the other person. If the case is yes, then you should stay in contact with this person and develop a relationship with this person so that you can mutually reach out to each other and serve as a resource when one person needs the other’s advice, help, etc. Even if you don’t see an immediate connection with the other person, it still might be useful to develop a relationship with that contact for the future. That is networking!
Who should engage in networking?
Contrary to some of the stigmas you might have previously associated with this activity, networking is not reserved only for the big businessmen and businesswomen in the world running large corporations. Everyone can and should engage in networking as everyone has a chance to gain something from building his or her network. Don’t underestimate the value of reaching out, as everyone has a specialty in a particular field or knows someone who excels in a particular field and you never know when you will need someone with a particular background or skill. It can be quite interesting, but sometimes a boss will keep the contact information of an employee in his address book if he believes he could be of use to him in the future. Networking is open to everyone and not limited to any particular status level or sector, so why not participate?
Where do you engage in networking?
You can engage in networking anywhere. It is important to take advantage of every chance you have to network, in your professional work environment as well as outside of work in your leisure activities. For example, playing sports or visiting a gym are two great occasions to get to know people. You can even propose an outing with your next boss to play a round of golf or play tennis. Outside of these situations, you can also attend networking events, outings organized to facilitate new people getting to know each other, either people working in the same field or people from diverse professional backgrounds. During these types of events, everyone participating has the goal of increasing their network; therefore, they are open to exchanges and are very accessible so there is no reason to be hesitant!
Why should you engage in networking?
Now that you have understood the principal, the people involved, and where to practice it, now the most important aspect remains… the reason! Also, why you should take care to practice this activity often. Many reasons exist including the following:
- Open new doors. There is a gold mine or professional and personal opportunities that you open yourself up to with networking. Through your connections, you can exchange points of view, opinions and discover new ideas that you would have never thought of. It is an excellent creative stimulation for your mind.
- Expand your address book. By definition, increasing your network allows you to vastly expand your contact list. You will establish new contacts; discover new opportunities, and find job prospects as well. This will maximize your chances of discovering jobs as someone might know about a job opening you might be interested in and that new connection could be a great resource to help you get the job.
- Add a stamp to your profile. A person with a network full of influencers is a fantastic way to improve your CV. You get noticed quicker and gain more clout, which greatly affects the image you send. A person’s network is a way of showing importance. Your contacts reflect you, just like your friend group often reflects aspects of your personality.
- Finally, networking allows you to simply interact with other competent and intelligent people as well as to benefit from wise advice. Listening to advice from well-experienced professionals is a great source of professional development that you don’t want to ignore. In the opposite case, to share your experiences with the younger generation is also a rewarding experience.
Now, hopefully you have a better understanding about networking. Networking is simply the practical exchange of favors between professional and personal relationships. We will share with you other ways to become a pro at networking in future posts.
Original article written by Hugo FITAN on our French blog
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