What is your network?
Your network refers to those people you’re connected to, people you associate with. They know you based on your relationship with them. And permit you to contact them through any means of communication, such as a phone call, text, email, or on social media.
Examples of people who make up your network are your former classmates, family and friends, former professors and lecturers, current and past colleagues, religious leaders and congregation, social media contacts, neighbours, and professional colleagues.
What do you understand by networking?
In simple terms, networking means meeting and establishing contacts with other people. There are several forms of networking with the most common form being professional networking. In this form of networking, you network and make connections with people in your field of expertise or business.
It is used to shape business relationships and to recognise business opportunities, build them, or even go through with them.
Porter gale, author of the book titled “Your network is your net worth,” describes networking as a means of building relationships by being genuine and generous to others. By genuine, I mean being yourself, being real.
You can be generous and give value to others, through actions, like:
- Connecting them to someone that can help them
- Offering helpful advice
- Helping guide their career path
One mistake most people make, is that they see networking as transactional. It is not, professional networking is supposed to be transformational. This is the right way to network.
Networking gives you access to a certain kind of currency. This currency is the powerful currency of relationships. You get this from the people you know, the relationships you’re forming, and the actions you are doing for and with each other.
The importance of networking
Networking has become really relevant in today’s world, especially in business and otherwise. It might even be considered critical for a successful career. Professional networks may lead to more growth opportunities and can contribute to increased professional status.
Networking often involves forming relationships in your field with other people or doing things similar to yours. These relationships ensure that through your networking connections, you can find out about job opportunities. Learn about a career, get advice about a project, learn about a prospective employer, find prospective job candidates, among other benefits.
How to network
As much as networking is beneficial to your career and even to your personal life, the fact is that many people don’t instinctively get it. In reality, for some people, the idea of beginning a conversation at a conference or event with a stranger triggers fear straight away.
A rule of thumb to follow on how to prepare ahead for a conversation is to find a few essential points to start and keep a conversation. If you think you’re going to be in a situation where you’re going to have a chance to meet new people. Such points of discussion should not be just about work – they can also be about things like hobbies or the event itself. The aim is to get the dialogue started and leave space for future meetings and conversations
Guiding principles on your networking journey
Give before you receive.
People always expect you to ask for help in a networking situation. When you turn it around and actually give some help, your networking partner will be thankful and will want to return the support. Think of the “we” while networking, not just the “me,” and you’ll have greater success.
Create win/win situations.
It’s vital when networking, that both you and the other party benefit equally. If you take more advantage than the other person, he or she will feel cheated and used. If this happens, you are not going to be able to go back and establish a long-term relationship.
Be a link; connect people.
In networking, you don’t always have to benefit anything. When you can connect people who will profit from each other, it is also effective. You will create a better relationship with multiple people, and that will make you very successful.
Reconnect, keep in touch.
After years of never touching base with some people: we have always had some of them who would contact us out of the blue. You usually don’t want to go out of your way for them when this happens because they have not put much effort into maintaining the relationship. So also, after selecting the right people to connect to, please keep in touch with them. So your network won’t hesitate to assist you in any way they can.
Make good use of social networks.
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are tools you can use to relate to various people in your industry in a personal way. For example, you can get linked to new contacts through your connections on LinkedIn. You can also use LinkedIn as a career directory to find people at different companies who are in your field.
A small network with fewer but stronger links would be much more efficient than knowing hundreds of people but not having any depth on the relationships.
At the end of the day, what matters most is the quality of the relationships. And don’t think about getting to know everyone out there, just concentrate on building some quality connections.
I wish you well on your networking journey.
Written by Ilaya Mary-Rose
A natural hair and beauty blogger at marynrose