Networking to Find Opportunities
Networking is a fairly long term strategy, but is something that could pay dividends over time.
So, what is networking?
Put simply, networking is forming relationships with people that could assist you at a later date. It is the art of getting to know the right people in the right places and forming a bond of trust with them.
Avoid the stereotype
Many people see ‘networking’ as a bit of a stigma. The phrase often conjures up the views of people using cheesy buzzwords and inflating each other’s egos over lunch. This is a common stereotype but one you should try and shrug off. You don’t need to have meetings or lunches with people to network, it should be something you do off the cuff whenever you have the opportunity.
Some people also have negative views of people who network because they think they just use others for their own agenda. However, it's important to view networking as a two-way relationship; by doing other people favours and forming a bond, people are more likely to trust you and help you in return.
How to network effectively
A good networker will simply chat to people when they get the chance and attempt to leave a positive impression with the people they talk to. They will then foster that relationship gently over time with emails, chance meetings, comments on LinkedIn etc. and then call upon that person when there is an opportunity that they may be able to help with.
If you have built up a good relationship with a person, they are likely to help out if and when they can. It will often be nothing more than a referral for a job or a positive comment to a hiring manager, but it can all help.
Where should you network?
Where and how can you network? Well, you can do it all the time. Face to face is always best, so keep an eye out for people when you are at seminars or events, or when you are meeting clients or suppliers. You can also do it online; try helping people on LinkedIn when they post questions or get involved on other social networks that relate to your goal. Finally, keep it in mind when you are out socialising, a social event can be a great source of people who are in your market and could possibly help you in future!
As they say, "It’s not what you know, it’s who you know", although what you know is actually just as important, only by meeting people will you get the chance to impress them with your skills and knowledge.