Daniell Morrisey: Get networking for career success!
Some people are natural born networkers – out there, meeting new people, adding new contacts to their little Black Book. For many of us this simple thought causes panic, embarrassment, even terror.
What is networking?
Networking means finding, developing and nurturing potential long-term contacts, sharing contacts and ideas for mutual success. It is about a group of people with similar interests and who want to share information and contacts – a much more lucrative experience for all concerned. It is like finding a plumber – you might ask neighbors, friends, local shopkeepers – that is networking too.
Do you want to increase your network?
Decide why you are networking. What are your goals?
Think about your career aspirations and try to associate with people from the area. Also, think about how you would describe yourself and combine it with your networking goal.
Who do you already know?
Before you go and find new contacts, do a quick audit on who you already know.
On your action list, make a list of people that might help you with your goal. These could include current and former co-workers, family, friends and neighbors and people you know through clubs and organizations.
Go through your address book, and think about people you have met on projects groups, at conferences and on courses. Recruitment consultants are often a useful source of contacts and information.
Building your network
You will have a few names that can help you meet your goal, but keep your list of contacts refreshed and diverse… Remember, networking is about long-term relationships and building rapport, so you also want to find opportunities to keep meeting your existing contacts.
Ultimately everything is a networking opportunity – community groups, sports clubs and voluntary organizations. If you work in a large organization, then try going to a different office or a department for the opportunity to meet those you have not met before. Conferences and courses are another great way to meet people with similar interests.
Social networking online has really taken off with sites like LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook where you can search for lost contacts and make new ones.
Business cards are a functional networking tool, but don't spread cards like confetti. When you meet someone you want to stay in touch with get his/her card and write something on the back that will help you remember them and where you met.
Staying in touch
Once made, contacts need to be nurtured. When you meet someone new, send him or her an email or phone. Tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them and invite them to contact you if you can help them in any way.
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