‘Networking’ is definitely not about asking for a job. It’s not even about asking for an interview or getting hold of an email that you can send your resume to.
Networking is literally about growing the network of people you know and strengthening those links by building rapport. Throughout your career, you will ideally build a vast network of relationships that are productive and mutually beneficial.
Some people are turned off by the misconception that networking is about creating superficial relationships for specific gains. This mindset is actually what will make networking more challenging and is likely to make ‘networking’ efforts fruitless.
The key, is in fact, to build genuine professional relationships. This means that you can’t neglect your networks once you’ve got a job and that you may actually end up helping someone else before the favour is returned. And that’s totally fine, it’s all about waiting for the right timing or opportunity and building trust in the meantime.
So you’re in a situation that you feel could offer networking opportunities, what do you do? (We’re going to interrupt that thought process right here – any situation can offer fantastic networking opportunities. Family events, coffee shops, holiday tours… You just never know where conversations can lead!)
So… You find yourself with a networking opportunity, the best way to build rapport is through great chat! Whilst we talked about creating a ‘pitch’ for cold canvassing, informal networking is exactly the opposite. This should come as a relief, you don’t need to sell yourself or make impressive industry observations.
People often underestimate the power of finding simple things in common. Holidays, pets, sports teams, restaurants, children… These are the things that people love talking about, if you can listen and ask questions, you’re bound to find a personal connection that can lay the foundation for an ongoing professional friendship. And this is the most valuable kind of network building.