We have all heard the old adage that to get ahead, it is less about what you know and more about who you know. Today, that still remains true. Anecdotally, up to 70% of business opportunities and job openings are offered through referrals, contacts and word of mouth.

And that was when networking began to take off. Networking as a specific practice became popular in the ‘80s, and has evolved to become an important commitment for anyone serious in improving their career and business prospects.

However, if networking is done with no clear purpose or approach, you will find yourself putting in so much time into these networking events without any real return on investment. Instead, this can become more of socialising, simply getting to know more people who may be at the same place and same time as you do.

So how can you improve your current networking approach to truly achieve your business and career goals?

  1. Identify your true purpose for networking

For networking to truly be useful, you will need to build meaningful relationships, ones that are long-lasting and mutually beneficial. You will need to identify what value you can bring to which group of people, and your vision for the future – not for yourself, but to the people you are providing services and products to, and how you want to make their lives better.

  1. Maintain your network effectively

To keep in constant contact with every single person we know, including those we meet at networking events, simply is not possible. Social media, smartphone technology and emails have made it a little easier in recent years, but it is still not possible to talk to every single person on a daily basis.

Hence, we should be prioritising and maintaining our networking in a smarter manner. People who constantly ask your for favours and information without reciprocating should be lowest on your priority list, while those who can potentially form a fantastic symbiotic relationship with you and your business should be right on the top of your priority list, and the frequency and quality of the communications between you and your contact should be adjusted accordingly.

  1. See networking not as an isolated activity, but a way of life

For networking to truly work for you, it should not be seen as an isolated activity that you carry out only during specific events, or when meeting certain people. The building of meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships should be what you aim to do any time you meet someone new, or when meeting old friends. As it becomes a part of your personality to add value to other people’s career, business and lives, you will find “networking” becoming easier and easier, and that your contacts will also be more willing to contribute to your success too!

Article is contributed by Jeannie Chew, co-founder of Edvantedge Group, in business solutions and education. Mr Ivan Gn, Principal Trainer and Consultant of Edvantedge Group will be sharing at the workshop session “Networking For Success” on 30 June 2015 on how to manage and expand your network effectively with the right type of people.

To register for the workshop, log on to stjobs.sg/seminar. Sign up now to enjoy early bird prices.