A Guide To Networking

A Guide To Networking

Most of the time you hear people mention the maxim “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know..” , networking is all about it, trying to develop connections with other experts, professionals , managers and entrepreneurs to promote each other’s business interests by forming mutually beneficial business relationships. Networking is all about creating a market for you or a marketing method for your business, which will enable you get information and meet decision-makers which might otherwise be difficult through conventional tender or job application processes.  In networking you gather contacts, develop mutually beneficial relationships, and maintain informal relationships with people whose friendship could bring advantages such as job or business opportunity.

Since it’s compulsory to work or make money to pay bills then we can conclude that everybody must network as it helps in achieving that. Whether you are entrepreneur or an employee in an organization having a network of beneficial people could help you at one given time to get a lucrative business deal or career development, so networking is for everybody if you don’t have one then start building one.

We have concluded that networking is a must; the next question is how we achieve that. There are many places you can network both online and offline. I know offline networking is seen as an old style but it still has an incredible importance in business opportunities so do your best not to miss out some incredibly important opportunities that are happening all around you in the non-digital realm. We frequently hear of people or organizations announcing events, volunteer work, forums, culture weeks, career talks or meet-ups, don’t laugh them off these are the places to be. Your target and objectives should be well defined, you are there to network so when you get that 20 minutes window in between speeches or snacks breaks that’s your chance to pitch, look for interesting targets and introduce yourself, will cover how to do that later in the article.

Online networking is easier these days with lots of social networking sites all around Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online groups etc. all you need to do is find people of interest to you and objectively follow them, interact and learn, stay connected, share important articles and point of view, try to sell who you are or what you offer or represent indirectly not as an advertiser:  people will run away from you! , always remember: Be Your Own Marketer (BYOM)

Why I stress on the need of networking beyond career or business opportunities is because it’s part of human interaction, networking with a purpose can help in one way or another example : land an interview, career development ,exposure , skills development, education, gratification, reputation or even support. Let’s assume that I have convinced you to network or you have been networking but unfortunately you lack the technique, then how do you start networking?

First you need to know, the purpose of the network you are building. It could be anything maybe:-

  • Looking for a job opportunity?
  • Career change?
  • Looking for people’s experiences or insight on higher level management?
  • For education or capacity building?

Secondly, the people to involve in this network, so your network could technically be changing based on your purpose at that time it can never be static, if it’s not then it could mean your development in your field or business has stagnated .

You need to know which people are going to be beneficial to your purpose, know who you want to know but don’t!

Next step is how to approach these people it could be non-verbal or verbal. You could get the impression that Non-verbal doesn’t matter but things like timing, standing up straight, smiling, hand shake, eye contact, attitude or how you dress plays a big role.This helps the person you are meeting to develop an idea about who you are and this could affect the seriousness of your next step which is the verbal part. You should be prepared for verbal pitching after the handshake it should be simple, focus on promoting your brand or yourself .A 30 second statement of who you are and summary of your skills, experience, desired work etc. could be the desired first few lines. Try to focus on the things you do best and know what you are talking about – your expertise.

Networking is more about ‘farming’ than it is about ‘hunting’– it’s about cultivating relationships with the people you know -Dr. Ivan Misner

 

Having a path to follow is always important, assuming you are looking for a job, then have a complete LinkedIn profile will make sense, be active, get recommendations, engage in groups, comment, follow and research companies. The path you follow could vary based on the purpose of your network so the tools you use can change. Keep networking like farmers know that the efforts used now will pay off in a rich harvest later.

 

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Yassir Al Ammar
Yassir Al Ammar 6 posts

Yassir Al Ammar is a Management and IT Consultant from Mombasa, Kenya.He is also an Author, Speaker and Trainer in the fields of Business, Management & IT. He can be contacted at yassir@yascomafrica.com

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