Networking: what for?
While Networking to find a job has proven its value, “on-the-job Networking” is unfairly scorned. However, for beginning managers, confirmed managers as well as senior executives, Networking remains key to having a successful career.
Networking means being visible to a set of individuals who are instrumental in reaching one’s professional goal. “On-the-job Networking” will boost and facilitate your career. Its techniques are applicable both within the company and outside the company.
Networking within a company is essential to succeed in the first months on the job. It’s also crucial later on, as managers network to develop an expertise, work to get a promotion, take on increasing responsibilities and change jobs within the company. Networking means creating positive alliances not only with management, colleagues, but also personnel, like hostess and assistants. These relationships are created progressively and will work only if one abides by Networking’s golden rule: give before receiving. Over time, these win-win relationships increase one’s impact and influence with the company.
In addition to Networking within the company, one should network outside the company as well. Networking outside one’s company may serve as a golden parachute because it provides professional visibility on the job market among potential recruiters, headhunters and recruitment firms. Thus, Networking outside one’s company is key to driving one’s career.
But, efficient networking requires practice, organization and methodology. This means defining a networking strategy based on:
- A compelling “self-elevator-pitch” (that’s a 30 second self-presentation of one’s education, professional experiences and competencies),
2. - A clear objective,
3. - Identifying the right people, the right businesses and the right communities and,
4. - Rigorous control of the overall process.
To increase Networking opportunities in your company, just make the most of daily opportunities: make the most of every “people-gathering” opportunity and get to know more than just names, learn to know people’s personality, especially those that work in a different service. Keep in touch with them as times goes on. You’ll be surprised at how fast your network of contacts will expand throughout the company. In truth, opportunities to network in companies are numerous. Let’s mention the following:
- - Informal social gatherings, like farewell parties, birthday parties, newbie parties…
- - Events and business seminars
- - Company-sponsored events such as organized week-ends
- - Group work
- - Training
One should also network proactively outside the company as it increases visibility on the job market. Sign up to professional activities that will paved the way to reaching your goal. Also, keep your résumé up-to-date and send it out to recruiters and headhunters on yearly basis. Be sure to polish your image by attending conferences, publishing books, teaching classes, writing articles and by meeting up with journalist particularly influential in your field. Don’t forget to be active in your alumni network and sending out annual wishes, a great way to activate your network of contacts at the end of the year.
Networking – how much?
Networking like a pro means doing it a few hours a week. Write it down on your agenda and stick to it. This will be crucial in organizing the forthcoming weeks, contacting your network, scheduling appointments, getting updates from your network and offering your assistance to anyone who may need within your network of contacts. Professional networking also means having a plan: an end-goal for the forthcoming semester and a list of the necessary steps to achieve that goal. To be fair, professional Networking can quickly become time-consuming; but the 2+2+1 rule will help you to buy time.
How? Use lunch time to boost your networking opportunities by:
· - Never eating alone
· - Not having lunch with the same people
· - Spending one lunch per week with close colleagues (boss, subordinate, that’s the people you usually have lunch with)
· - Having lunch with people from another company (clients, suppliers, ex-colleague, journalist…) twice a week
· - Having lunch with people from your company but from another service or department (people from another service, a distant colleague)
Try it and put it use just for 4 to 8 weeks: you’ll be amazed at how enriching it’ll prove to be in terms of ideas, contacts, information and more.
Networking is a must-have skill
If you believe that your career is guaranteed because you went to the right school or because you have specific knowledge in a technical field, you’re in for a surprise. Careers aren’t linear anymore: networking for career opportunities is more important than staying the course. Networking has become an essential skill in all walks of life and it abides by 80/20 rule: amateurs will reach 20% of their goals while efficient networkers just might reach 80% of their goals.
So, what do you choose? Networking? Or Not Working?