If you are over a certain age, when someone mentions the word NETWORKING, you probably think about attending a sparsely filled cocktail party, making useless small talk , and hoping beyond hope that someone will walk in, immediately love you, and offer you the job of your dreams. If that happened to ANYONE reading this please contact me immediately, because I have to hear that story.
What I KNOW about NETWORKING today, is something entirely different..
If you want to succeed, become promoted, and rise inside of any corporate job today, you HAVE TO NETWORK.
Unfortunately, many business professionals do not know this, or they think that networking is something that they should only do when they need to find a new job.
Many business professionals think that networking = “brown nosing”, or networking is something that “ people not as good as me” need to do.
Let me give you one example of how this thinking can be detrimental.
Recently, I had the opportunity to deliver a keynote presentation on Internal Networking to a financial services company. Prior to delivering my presentation, I was given the opportunity to interview a few select executives to get their thoughts on why internal networking was important to them and their business.
Without prompting, they affirmed that networking:
- Helps to break down silos
- Ensures that Best Practices are shared
- Enables nameless faces and names to become known
There are other benefits that were shared, but you get the general idea.
Like many things in life, some leaders in this organization were already “Networking’, they just weren’t calling it “Networking”.
I was able to help give a name to what they were doing, while also provide a simple process for those who weren’t networking.
The three keys to successful networking are:
- Understanding what you want from your career
- Understanding what you have today
- Understanding what your business needs tomorrow
1. Understanding what you want from your career.
From what I see in the marketplace, most people do this “exercise” a total of ONE TIME during their professional career, but you should be doing this once EVERY YEAR.
- Define who you are, and what you stand for
- Confirm your goals and aspirations
- Verbalize what you stand for; share your desires with others.
2. Understanding what you have today.
What I really mean here is, how are you perceived inside and outside of your organization.
- How many connections do you have? Who are your connections with?
- What is your reputation?
- How much trust and confidence do others have in you?
Some how, some way, you need to collect this data. Perception = Reality
3. Understanding what your business is looking for tomorrow.
What are you doing to become a Master at what you do? What are you doing to truly understand the direction of the organization? What are you doing to be a thought leader inside of your industry?
People have asked me, “Bob, I am not a natural Networker, so what should I do?” or “ I am younger in my career, what should I do?” The answer to both of these questions is the same, “create a plan & execute a plan – TODAY” Take 10 mins ( the 10min you usually spend on Facebook), and draft a set of goals, then take another 10min( the 10 min your spend txting funny images via Snapchat) and set down with a colleague or peer and ask them for their insights on your goals.
If you are already a senior leader inside of your organization( and never on Facebook or Shapchat), you can still do the same thing, or your could ask a peer who runs another silo( who you talk poorly about to your team) out for breakfast or lunch. Ask that person questions about YOU and YOUR team. When they start speaking, don’t get defensive, but take some notes and TRULY LISTEN.
Networking today is NOT about finding a job, it’s about putting yourself in the right position for a job to find you.