Let's debunk some myths and give some truths:
The best networking is just not about passive clicks on the internet. Most jobs are not even published on job boards, but filled through just a few degrees of separation within the network of those doing the hiring.
The strength circle of friends and connections, your social capital if you will, plays a huge role in the kinds of career opportunities that even enter your sphere of awareness as well as your rate of success in closing each of these opportunities. A strong network is built through true engagement, increasing trust and connection, and a willingness to give your own time and energy to your relationships instead of only wanting it in return.
See my lessons below on why networking is a two-way street, and how to build your network through a focus on the value you both give and receive from your network.
See the true value in others…
Not about selling yourself or a product: Good networking is really only achieved when you don’t need anything immediate in return, otherwise it’s just selling and people can smell a sales pitch from a mile away. The strongest relationships are built over time through continued, authentic interaction.
Be grateful: So much of networking can come from a show of gratitude. Small gestures like sending a thank you note after a meeting or introduction or dropping a line that you found a speaker’s talk helpful and profound can have a huge impact. This is often the key to kicking off a relationship and unlocking the opportunity for further interaction.
Connect daily: The saying goes, when you’re not working, you should be networking and its true now as ever. Take time out every day to both strengthen relationships within you existing network as well as reach out to form new connections. Not only does this keep you top-of-mind for any arising business opportunities, but with this continued, authentic outreach you’ll be happy to see that you also have a stronger circle of friendship in your life.
In-person is best: As you are working to strengthen your connections daily, make sure you request time to meet face-to-face. In-person connection deepens your relationships in a way that the virtual never will. So much of how we communicate comes from voice inflection and non-verbal facial and body language cues. Your interaction will be more memorable and, again, keep you more top-of-mind when it happens in person.
…And the value in yourself.
Give yourself: A huge part of networking is realizing how much you have to give – it is not all about what you can get from the other person. Consider the value you bring to the table of this existing or budding relationship and ask how you can make the other’s life easier of help them to a better career. This is the fastest way to build long-term trust which will pay off in spades when the time comes.
Make connections for others: Across your current network, there are probably a few people who would benefit from knowing each other in your circle. Be proactive and make the introduction, even being present for the first in-person meeting. Your friends and associates will be extremely grateful for your thoughtfulness. Most won’t soon forget who was behind their new connection or job opportunity and will be that more willing to make connections and referrals for you.
Share constructive feedback: Get invested in what people both in and outside of your network are doing and share thoughtful feedback and support. Not only will the time you take out to hear through another’s work issue or project make them feel of value to you, it also increases your standing as a trusted and supportive confidante who brings ideas to the table.
Look to current relationships: When you think about all your current friendships and relationships, know that you have brought value to the table in ways that go deeper than what is quantifiable. Let this give you the confidence to go out and boldly form new relationships. See where your strengths are in forming connections but also where you may have holes in certain areas that may keep you missing out on opportunities. Maybe you have external connections but missing valuable relationships within your own workplace. Build out these blind spots by taking stock of what is easy about your current relationships and translating this to round out your circle.
As you continue to look for new opportunities to grow your network in an authentic and sustainable way, check out the C-Suite, a premium network of amazing and motivated professionals who work together to keep each other uplifted and accountable. By joining the C-Suite, you also gain access to exclusive tips and resources as well as monthly group coaching sessions designed to take your career to new heights.