Get Your Networking Working
By definition, a network is a group or system of interconnected people or things. For our purposes, your network is a group of interconnected people.
Everyday we utilise those in our network, from joint ventures at work through to a friend collecting our kids from school. It really can be that simple.
Why is it then that when trying to build a business, land a job, gain experience, find love even – I hear from people making it harder than it has to be? We look outside of our circles to find that one person we think holds the answers we seek. That one person who will make it happen for us – who will bring about our success.
In business this looks like that person who attends every function and gets along to all the networking events. FOMO (*Fear of Missing Out) affects their decisions. What if they miss meeting ‘the one’?
For a job seeker or graduate – they write off to every agency, every company and attend every course. That one person has got to be out there somewhere.
What if I told you – you don’t have to do that? Exhale, focus and tune in. You are better networked than you realise.
Often we are staying busy to avoid deciding what it is we really want. I mean – what if that one person was in front of me? Would I even know? We’ll cover getting clear on what we want from our networks in future columns – but for now lets just get clear on how amazing your network currently is.
Start with who you already know. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are great for this exercise. Look through the contacts you have. Even your phone contacts list is vital here. Who are you not reaching out to? This is also the time to be thinking of how you could be helping others in your network. Who could you be connecting?
In his best selling book, Influence, author Robert Cialdini discusses the Law of Reciprocation. Reciprocity is essential the rule that says we should repay in kind. As such, the act of connecting people in your network, will see them want to connect and assist you. As you consider who you already know that could help you, look even more closely at who you could be helping. Goes around, comes around.
It is readily accepted that the average person has 120 people in their immediate circle. So go ahead and multiply your contacts by 120! You currently have access to that many people.
Add to this your family. With any luck they already think highly of you and want to see you succeed – so tap into their connections and be grateful of their support. If Uncle Joe works for the company you need an introduction to – just ask! I am always amazed when people don’t ask. We think to ourselves ‘They are too busy”, but so many of us love to connect and refer others. Just ask.
Having kids is another great way to increase your network. Maybe not the most cost effective way – but let’s examine the benefits. When I moved to a new area – having kids made it easy to make new friends. So look at that network and they way you can leverage it. Where do the other parents go when they exit the school gate or leave the game? So often we see each other as little Billy’s Mum or Dad – but we have connections and skills to share. You just have to participate, connect and ask.
What else do you do with your time? Sport, Craft, Volunteer? Start a list – and then look at who you know in these areas.
The benefit of social media platforms is that they tell us who knows who, but face-to-face communication still reigns supreme when looking for a personal recommendation, lead or referral.
Know what you have to give. In the case of seeking employment or work experience you may not feel like you have much to offer. However, if a colleague is looking for staff and I can help them by referring you, everyone wins. A thank you also goes a long way here, as does following up leads given.
In business you need to understand your business and yourself to know how you can help others in your network. In turn, they will know how they can help you.
This is just the start. You will still need to attend events, write letters, make phone calls and send emails. You will need to up skill, working on yourself and your business to get ahead. At the same time though, look at your existing networks and connection for an opportunity to find work, experience, leads and even love. The same rules apply.
You are better networked than you realise.