Is networking important for building your career? The use of networking as a career-building tool is nothing new. It is possible that you may be doing it without even being aware of it. The problem is not in the concept itself but in its execution. Here, in this post, we will try to understand how to do it right.
Professional networking is not about pestering people, who you have met only once, for jobs. It is not about smooth talking to all your contacts. It is not about emailing people you have not even met for opportunities or introductions. It is about nurturing your present alliances and creating new relationships.
Identify the Strong Bonds
You need to understand the difference between a relationship based on transaction and one based on an alliance. When an entrepreneur pays a bookkeeper to manage his business accounts, it is a transaction-based relationship. On the other hand, an alliance-based relationship is what is between you and your co-worker.
A professional forms alliances at the workplace, not at business meets or cocktail parties. Remember, the individuals you work with are your allies. This may be your boss you always ask for advice. This may be a co-worker you collaborate with on a project.
It is important to invest in the relationships based on alliances. When your co-worker asks for a little help with a presentation at the last minute, it is a good idea to provide it. After all, you may also need his/her help if you are in a similar situation; you never know when such a situation may arise.
Diversify the Broad Connections
Your immediate associates are not the only ones. While you may have close relationships with only a few individuals, you are sure to have numerous connections on a general level. These may be alumni you meet at get-togethers, business associates you meet at events or anyone connected to your professional world.
The people immediately outside your inner circle are the ones you meet and interact with seldom but are on friendly terms with. These are not your alliances, but your acquaintances. It is a good idea to maintain relationships with these contacts.
When you create these contacts, focus on the diversity instead of the number. It may be possible to benefit from a professional contact if he/she belongs to a related, or even an unrelated, industry. These contacts are often the ones that bring essential bits of information or opportunities that are of help in your career.
Create a Healthy Balance
A good professional network is not about how many contacts you have but about the quality of the contacts you have. You need to achieve the right balance between a few strong professional alliances from your field and a number of useful, friendly contacts from diverse areas of work.
How does this balance help in your career? While your immediate alliances strengthen your position in the industry niche you work in, your indirect connections enhance your knowledge about the job opportunities in other fields. This ensures your chances of improvement in your present job as well as your chances of better opportunities.