Does the word ‘networking’ fill you with fear? Put it to one side, because the art of creating a web of professional contacts to provide support, feedback, insight, and resources is the key to getting ahead. Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Yes, we know networking is a dreaded chore for many. Do it anyway.
No longer an old boys club
Leaders network to identify new career opportunities. Think the next step in your career is coming from an online job site? Think again. Around 50% of new roles are discovered in the hidden job market. Networks are a low-risk, fast and cheap way to tap new talent.
Want to develop and keep a finger on the pulse of your industry? Stop doing other people’s work and invest the time you save into gaining new perspectives that can advance your career. When you want to learn something new, you’ve probably asked your trusted contacts. Have you noticed they then open up their networks? Your web can get exponentially bigger and fast.
Have you been blindsided by a decision you felt you should have been across? Leaders need to see strategic change coming. Connecting with stakeholders is not a distraction from ‘real work’ – it’s the key to having a voice and influencing decisions. Building allies, navigating the political landscape and acting as a connector are the priorities of a clever leader.
Try, fail, learn, try again
Don’t be afraid to dabble in the art of self-promotion; it’s a muscle that can be developed over time (and you can learn by doing!). “I’d love to meet you” will be met with crickets. 🦗Do research on the person you’re trying to meet, and give them something interesting that makes them want to reply. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Be specific and be confident – imagine how great it will feel if it works out!
Know your value
Use LinkedIn (authentically)
We (and others) understand that LinkedIn is full of flexing muscles and egos. But for now, it’s here to stay. Your network is a powerful asset, and we have to be where other leaders can see (see what we did there?). Embrace a few LinkedIn do’s and don’ts and start connecting.
In-person events are in again
You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with and most of us aren’t spending time with people who can push us to improve. But you may find that inspiration in a room full of strangers – it’s time to go out there and meet them.
Don’t forget the follow-up
Say thank you for someone’s time. A sincere follow-up can be an opportunity to forge a lifelong connection. When you can, return to them and offer value.
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