What is Networking?
Networking is the process of establishing, building, and maintaining relationships (contacts) as a source of gathering information. Networking is not merely handing out resumes or business cards, asking for jobs or leads, being pushy or overbearing. In contrast, to be effective at networking you must:
- Show a genuine interest in the other individual.
- Recognize the importance of the two-way nature of networking and thus mutually sharing information and advice with the other individuals to assist them in achieving their goals.
- Build a strong rapport by being friendly, interested and enthusiastic.
We’ve all heard the statement often, “It’s about Who you know,” But networking is useless unless the people we reach out to will truly help us. Think about it… how many contacts have you reached out to who were truly reliable, followed-through on things, went beyond the call of duty to assist you? It does happen, but it’s uncommon.
So how do we get them to do this? Building useful connections is all about “knowing” people, and them “knowing” you. “Knowing” in the best sense of word. Let’s rephrase the sentence: “It’s not just about who you know - it’s about who you really know, who really knows you.” And it starts with a very specific “who.”
Our “Who,” begins with our inner circle: soul mates, friends, family – those who know us to our core and have been there in all stages of our lives. The deepest kind of “knowing” there can be. They will be our “bridges,” our conduits to achieving goals.
We need a plan that centers networking back to where it was meant to be, surrounded by one’s closest friends, family, advocates, mentors, and allies and their concentric circles of friends!
Your initial networking list can come from a variety of sources:
- Personal Contacts: family, friends, neighbors, classmates, acquaintances, organizations, church groups
- Work Contacts: co-workers, supervisors, colleagues
- Educational Contacts: teachers & professors, academic advisors, athletic coaches, alumni networks
- Professional Group Contacts: Chamber of Commerce, professional trade associations, career centers
- Professional Contacts: doctor, dentist, optometrist, lawyer, accountant, banker, insurance agent, realtor
Brainstorm as many potential contacts as possible. It is also important not to overlook or underestimate the magnitude of "chance encounters," or “serendipity moments” such as waiting in line at the supermarket, sitting next to someone on the bus, or someone at a party.