Is Your Networking Strategic or Serendipitous?
Networking can be described as any process in a business or social setting which facilitates the exchange of information and or ideas among individuals who often times share a common interest. It is often a means to an end. For some it is to form a professional relationship with a view to getting a job or some other opportunity at some point in the future, others seek out mentors, sales, partnerships etc.
Strategic or serendipitous
Networking is a simple science for some. Generally, it may be either: strategic or serendipitous. The former indicates that one knows what they are after or who for that matter; it also suggests they know where to go and what to say. The latter happens by chance, for example, you happen to be at a coffee shop and someone you wanted to meet happens to strike up a fruitful conversation. For many, it is not a simple science, but this may be because they are networking without a strategy. Here are three things to consider if you are actively networking.
Networking is about what you can do for people, not about what people can do for you. If you have nothing to add to the prospective relationship, why should anyone waste their time on you? Because it’s about cultivating a relationship of cooperation both parties need to have something of value to offer. Networking is also about one’s ability to develop relationships with people who are different from you biologically, physically, functionally, culturally and socioeconomically. People end up in different places in life at different times. It’s always a good idea to keep bridges clear and open even if you don’t plan on using them.
Step away from the familiar
It’s ok to fraternize with friends when you’re with them, but its not if you are at a networking event. As the Christmas Party season approaches, many opportunities will present themselves so don’t spend all your time with people with whom you are already familiar. This goes for online networkers too, step away from the familiar...With the explosion of social media, business networking has received a notable boost with sites like Linkedin facilitating professional relationships. This makes it easier for people to do targeted networking. That means doing a little research that may make it easier to communicate. You may stumble upon a mutual favorite book. I made a meaningful connection recently it just so happened that we had a favorite book in common - 1984 by George Orwell.
Choose quality over quantity
Its better to have a few good contacts that you contact regularly and vice versa than a rolodex of people who have no idea who you are. You have to understand that networking is more than swapping business cards. Its about building mutually beneficial relationships and trust. Meaningful connection must be maintained if networking is to serve its true purpose.
Very few professional connections begin serendipitously, but with strategy, we can create our own luck...:-).
Image Credits: Access Direct