Almost 80% of jobs are never advertised. As a recruiter, business mentor and career coach, I’ve spent over 16 years encouraging people to invest time and effort into building their networks.
‘Networking’ was traditionally viewed as a business related activity. Commonly the remit of senior executives in an organisation and, more often than not, male ones at that, networking wasn’t viewed as an integral part of life-working, or, rather of making life work.
Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have opened the doors and changed the networking landscape forever. It appears that individuals feel more confident connecting virtually than they do walking into a room full of strangers. As a busy working mum with a 4 year old to consider, I also value the fact that I don’t have to be somewhere fully groomed and alert at 7 a.m.! I can do my networking at my leisure, on an evening, with my son tucked up in bed.
So, why bother networking in the first place?
I’ve heard it said many times that your net worth is directly related to your network. Having an established network is the foundation for your success – be it career, business or life in general. Having an established network gives tremendous power to those who understand its value and then ‘work’ it.
How to build your network
Below are my four top tips for building a solid network – that works:
- Start with who is on your network already. This may sound pretty obvious. However, I find that many people get put off when faced with a blank sheet of paper. Once they start to list the people that they already know, other people often spring to mind – and the confidence to start approaching new people starts to grow.
- Start with the end in mind. Why do you want to network? Are you seeking a new job, looking to grow your business, or recruit? Do you want a support network? Define your objectives for networking. What kind of people do you need to network with to achieve your objectives? Knowing your goals and objectives is critical to your su
ccess. Also remember that you can have more than one network and may want to separate business and personal networks.
- Combine online and offline (traditional) networking. There are many social (online) networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., as well as blogging sites. Where you decide to network will be driven by what you want to achieve. There has been a tendency over the last few years to rely purely on online networking. This trend is beginning to turn. Online networking is only part of your networking strategy. Relationships formed in person and over a period of time will always be the strongest and deepest. So start thinking about how you can get out there and connect in person again.
- Remember the two ‘C’s. For both forms of networking, contribution and consistency are vital to success. In our busy, often reactive, lives and work, networking can get pushed to a back burner (particularly traditional networking if it makes you uncomfortable). However, in order to build great relationships you need to engage with your networks regularly. This means having a plan to ensure you attend networking groups regularly and are active online at social networking websites.
A final thought…..
Women are natural relationship-builders. We often overlook this strength as it comes so naturally to us. Networking is merely another label for what we do naturally. So, get out there and do what you do naturally and brilliantly – and network.
Photo credit iStock Photo
About the author: Clare Fenwick began her life in recruitment and career development as a legal recruiter at the tender age of 21. Further to playing an integral part in the launch and development of an executive search firm in London, she moved to the Channel Islands in 2000 and furthered her career as an executive search consultant to the offshore financial services industry.
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