We all make excuses about why we do not network – from I don’t have time to, it seems inauthentic, it just feels dirty, or I just don’t have anything to say. I challenge you to re-define your mindset towards networking and learn to incorporate it into your career management strategy.
If you approach networking with a genuine interest in learning about people and their career stories and about new companies, organisations and the market then you will probably really enjoy it. Approach it with a sense of curiosity and openness. That said, do so professionally. Have questions prepared, send well written communications, stick to meeting times and don’t waste people’s time. Go in having done your research and having a purpose or desired outcome you are seeking from the meeting. While the long term goal maybe a job, networking is about building trust to the point that jobs and referrals will eventually come organically once you have built the trust. It takes time, which is what can also put people off networking. Particularly given the society we live in today with the expectation that things will happen NOW. If you don’t invest the time, then don’t expect a good return. It is as simple as that. If you do however, you will have a prosperous and personally rewarding and fulfilling career.
Chances are you already have a network. How useful this network is dependent on what you are interested in career wise. If you are looking to transition, your existing network may need to be expanded to include more people who are interested and knowledgeable in areas you want to move into. It also depends on how well you have tended to your existing networks. Be honest with yourself:
- How engaged and active are you in your current network?
- Have you expanded your network over the last 2+ years, or relied on only a few contacts to get advice, information or job opportunities?
- Do you feel comfortable and confident reaching out to your network for help?
- Is your network providing you with the connections and opportunities you want?
- Is this network the one that you need to reach your career goals?
- Do you support others who reach out to you for networking meetings?
If your answers to most of these questions are ‘no’ or ‘unsure’ it is likely your current network is not being well nurtured and not aligned with your career goals. It is time to review and refresh your network and your networking skills! Think about networking as simply building trusted relationships and helping people out if and when they need. One day you may also be able to return the favour.
To be successful in your career today, you need to have a strategic approach to managing your career, which includes your networks. As a professional or executive these are incredibly important to how your career plays out. Working hard and being good at your job is unfortunately just not enough. If you are not allocating time purposefully to be increasing your knowledge and building relationships with your networks, you are missing out on crucial information and the enjoyment and career benefits that come from having a group of trusted people who share common interests in certain professions and industries.
We spend a third of our lives at work. It makes sense that having solid relationships with our work colleagues matters and those relationships and ‘trusted networks’ of people outside our workplaces. They too play a valuable role in our enjoyment and engagement and success at work and over our careers.
While the pandemic has made face to face networking a little more challenging, though not overly so. You can use it as an excuse to avoid networking or you can get on with it. Or you can leverage the power of networking virtually which is also a great option. Again, the same principles apply to offline and online networking. A great article for online networking is ’COVID Has Actually Made Networking Easier, But Only If You Do It Right (washingtonpost.com)
What Networking Can Offer You If Done With the Right Mindset & Preparation
- Advice and guidance from a trusted source/s
- Explore the feasibility of changing careers or transitioning to an executive role
- Identify or create new job and career opportunities that are not advertised
- Learn about the employment trends and timing on market demand for your skills
- Talent management – build your team and find the right hires for your organisation
- Expand your network, connecting with decision-makers
- Learn about the problems you can solve in tailoring the marketing of yourself
- Develop and nurture long term professional networks to help ongoing career management
- Have your personal pitch ready for networking. If you are not sure what this is or how to get started visit Free Career Tools for Professionals (diversitas.com.au)
- Be clear about the purpose of your networking and the outcomes you are seeking
- Network consistently and professionally, go in prepared.
- Set yourself networking goals or a schedule i.e. schedule a networking meeting once a week for the next 6 weeks
- Reflect and do a debrief with yourself and/or someone you trust after each networking meeting and consider areas you can improve and adapt accordingly
- Formally thank those who support you along the way
Networking if done with a positive mindset and some preparation is a rewarding personal and career experience. You will find many people will be willing to support you and in turn you will find that there will be the chance to support others over the coming months and years.
Book your Complimentary Virtual Career Coaching Call
If you are feeling unsure about your work right now, feel free to reach out to us and book your 30minute complimentary coaching call. It may be to discuss your boss and their approach, your fears about job security, networking, career change, and what’s next? etc. We are here to listen and help where we can or refer you to someone who can. It is confidential. Calendly – Diversitas Coaching (the clarity institute)