You have probably heard the term “networking” being tossed around a lot.
Networking can be as simple as a phone call to your old college contact or active participation in a networking group.
It can be a business card exchange at a conference or a reciprocal referral relationship with a business person.
Too many people think that to network is to interact with anyone and everyone they meet.
The reality is that you probably need to meet or maintain close ties with between five and 20 key people to accelerate your career or increase your referral business.
Those who think networking is selling, socialising or making quick money have not discovered its true benefits.
After running a business networking organisation for more than 10 years, I can say with certainty that networking involves much more than just a handshake.
Networking means different things to different people, but they all have one thing in common: It is a powerful way for you to get things done.
Through consistent networking, you:
Have access to sources of inspiration and motivation;
Get job recommendations;
Receive more leads and better referrals;
• Are given opportunities to contribute to the success of others;
Get connected to “hard to reach” people;
Know about profitable opportunities — locally and globally;
Get information before your competitors do; and
Stay on track with your career objectives and goals.
Most people will agree that having and keeping the right connections are a powerful key to success, yet networking is still neglected as a necessary skill — even by those in sales and marketing.
Statistics tell us that more than 70 per cent of all jobs are found through networking. This number includes those in administrative positions.
An increasing number of executives in Singapore are beginning to value networking as an important strategy for personal and professional success.
However, it must be emphasised that networking should be an ongoing part of your career.
It is a continual process of sharing, passing along and receiving information that is beneficial to your personal or business advancement.
It is not for the self-serving — you must want to sincerely build ties with other people and give as much as you receive.
Career coaches believe that networking is an essential life skill.
The main ingredient in successful networking is time. Networking cannot be rushed.
Like fine art, you have to work on the relationships you build layer by layer. You need to be focused, review contacts periodically and stay in touch.
Just do it
Some people will tell you that you need an inherent talent for networking, a great personality or lots of charisma. These qualities are certainly helpful but not necessary.
Networking is a skill anyone can master, so long as you have sincerity and the right attitude. Go ahead and:
Make that phone call for a job recommendation;
Ask for that contact you need;
Show your support for others;
Promote your friend’s new venture;
Give business referrals;
Seek out a mentor;
Appreciate your referral sources; and
Join a networking group and participate actively in it.
If you need networking tips or specific skills, learn from someone with experience, like a mentor or a trainer.
There are dozens of books on the subject. You can either buy them if your budget allows, or borrow them from the library. Start having an interdependent mentality.
Successful corporate executives and entrepreneurs have given due credit to networking for many of their achievements.
Networking is a way to get more of what you want from life through collaboration and alliances. It helps you reach further than you can ever do, alone.