Networking: How to get from fear to fab

If hearing the word ‘networking’ fills you with fear, this week’s deep dive probably isn’t welcome news. Put that hesitation 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? With a bit of effort, you can gain 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 put yourself out there; it’s a muscle that can be developed over time. “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 – just be specific.

Know your value

Your elevator pitch should include the essentials; who you are, what you do, what you want to achieve, and what you have to offer.

Use LinkedIn (authentically)

We (and others) understand that LinkedIn is full of flexing muscles and egos. But for now, it’s here to stay; we have to be where emerging leaders can see (see what we did there?). Use your voice and give opinions, share relevant news, and share a recent experience – personal or professional. You do you.

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 develop. Ah, 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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