How well do you use your networks?

I attended a networking event at a global investment bank recently. I usually hate these things with a passion and have to force myself to attend. This one was actualy quite good and I found myself nodding in agreement with the speakers. So I thought I’d share some of those things. When it comes to networking,

  1. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. Great, you know the boss, maybe you met him in the hallway, or saw her picture on the intranet. But does she know you? Does he know what you do? How well you do it? How you add value to the company? If not, then what are you going to do about it?
  2. Treat your career like a business. If you don’t manage it, no one else will. And if they do, they might be managing it in a way you don’t want. Think about what you want from your career and plan accordingly. If you’re not sure, then ask someone to help you think about it. School counselors, friends, professional career coaches can help.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask. You have a network, so use it. Most people are more than willing to help, you just need to ask. Be as specific as possible and be realistic in your request. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at what happens.
  4. Networking isn’t just about asking for favours. It’s about building long term relationships that eventually lead where you want to get. When you’re networking, don’t necessarily do it with the end goal in mind. It may be that two years down the road, the relationship you cultivate now will pay off.
  5. Where networking happens. Yes, it might happen at a networking event, but more likely it’s happening at the school parent’s evening, the pilates class, queuing for tickets at the cinema, waiting to check-in at the airport and so forth. Networking happens where ever there are people.
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  6. What do people think of you?If you’ve done work for someone, find out what they think. Testimonials can go a long way in building your personal brand. If you belong to online networks like Linked In, you can use the recommend feature.
  7. Develop a “favour bank”. Networking isn’t just about receiving, it’s about giving and sharing as well. How can you help the people in your network? Can you link up people? Provide them with information? Recommend them? The more you do for others, the more favours you “bank” and when the time comes, you’ll find yourself rich in return favours. One caveat, beware of the favour leeches, they’ll take your favours and never return them.
  8. Know what you want to get out of networking. If you do go to networking events, most likely it’s not just to socialise. Know what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Find out who is on the guest list, do a little research. Set yourself goals, “I will make three new contact and learn one interesting fact about each of them”. And don’t forget to follow-up, send an email, make a phone call, drop them a note. Help them to remember you.
  9. Oh yeah and the elevator pitch. Practice it. Get it down to 60 seconds or less. What do you do? One of the best pitches I heard went something like this. The reply to what do you do, “I make women beautful” from a man who worked in the fashion industry. Short, to the point and it prompted further questions. That’s what you want, you want them to ask you for more information. Think of it as your sixty second television advert, think Cadbury’s Gorilla or Dancing eyebrows adverts.
  10. And remember, for most people networking isn’t easy. It takes practice and a little planning. But the more you do it, the easier it will get. It may never feel natural, it may never be comfortable. But it will help you succeed in the long run.

Just have fun and be yourself!

About Anna

ZIA Executive works with individuals, teams and organisations to help turn people potential into sustainable business performance. We work closely with our clients to develop the best solutions to meet their needs and the needs of their business in a way that is engaging, practical and outcomes oriented. Zia Executive's expertise lies in four primary areas: * Executive Coaching * Leadership and Management Development * Team and Individual Development * Organization/Cultural Transformation
This entry was posted in how to, how to network, networking, networks, tips, use your network, where to network. Bookmark the permalink.

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