#leadership #networking #professionalism #leadership
Did you know that Networking is a longtime investment in your career and part of the long game? Most think it is like instant gratification. However, it is about establishing yourself as a professional. You are creating the impression and image of the professional you want to be known as.
Networking has many facets and is hard work. But it is fun too!
How do we Network effectively?
If you handle networking effectively you will get amazing outcomes. Should you handle it wrongly you may put off potential essential connections and loose out.
Here are some examples of outcomes that I have experienced myself or been part of:
- Some one approached me for advice over LinkedIn and I gave professional advice freely. Friends told me I should have charged, but I felt this is not something one should charge. The same person approached me several times over the years. Then totally unexpected I actually got a job offer at a time, when it was just what I needed
- One of my contacts on LinkedIn approached me if I would know any project manager with Engineering back ground. I had just received a CV from a Kenyan who wanted to get a foot back into the Kenyan market after having been out of the country for years. Subsequently I forwarded his CV to the person who asked me for connections. Since I did not know this project manager, I mentioned this and indicated that the CV seems to be a fit, mentioned that the person approached me in a very professional manner through the professional network, and said that I felt confident to forward the CV. The person seeking to employ contacted him, took him through an interview process and he first became a consultant and later was employed.
- Over time I have connected many project managers with potential employers successfully
- I got into contact with someone through a leadership program. She gave me 2 coaching sessions as part of the program. Then she contacted me 2 years later when she was looking for a Co-Author. We connected and started initial work for a book on a topic both of us found intriguing. This did not pan out in the long run, or not yet, due to personal circumstances, that hindered us to proceed.
- Through my conduct in certain social circles and the perception people get of me, I have gotten several job offers over time. Yes even your conduct in the running club is important
- I have many more stories like this
Dorie Clark, one of my go-to authors for #leadership and #entrepeneurship write the following in her most recent book “The long Game: How to be a Long-term Thinker in a Short-Term World” :
- Be creative in your networking – she for example hosted networking dinners for years, where she would invite people, who did not know each other yet
- Networks need to be build with peers, potential vendors, potential clients, potential employer organizations
- If you meet someone do not bombard them with business ideas, job requests etc immediately, it is a long game. Build a true relationship first – as a rule of thumb she suggests that for the first 1 year you should not propose any business related things.
Yes you heard that right, for the first 1 year! You need to build a relationship first. Connect on a personal level, find something you both enjoy or identify with, then you can take it to the next level. Dorie explains each step in her book and gives an indication how long each step will usually take.
So when you attend a networking event, do NOT expect to go home with a contract offer or job offer. You are getting to know people and are trying to establish yourself as a professional.
A few more tips:
- When reaching out to new people on LinkedIn or similar professional networks, attach a short note to the connection request and explain briefly why you want to connect. Your chances of being accepted are much higher.
- During a conference or networking event purposely sit with people you do not know, exchange names & contacts. Then the next day reach out to them and express your appreciation to have met them
- Start discussions with others during conferences, professional events and networking events don’t talk to much. Ask the other person, get discussions started. You can for example ask what they think about the topic of the evening, or if they have a practical example of the topic at work. Express your opinion, when the others have already talked, or when someone asks you
- Establish yourself as a specialist in your professional corner. You can not be a specialist of every aspect of project management, but you can identify a corner that suits you. Then offer to write blogs, articles etc or give a talk. These are not about earning money, but about putting your name out
- Use Hashtags # and @ or other links when talking about the topic you want to be known for. If properly used, these are very powerful tools
Use your tools
We live in the time and age of the internet of things. We have so many more tools at hand, that our predecessors couldn’t even dream of. Let’s learn to use them.
Networking is one such tool and we need to learn how to do this. It is about giving and the receiving will come as a fruit. Have fun with it