More than a hobby, networking is a Swiss Army Knife in the business world that helps you gain access to new opportunities, build professional relationships, expand your horizons, increase your knowledge and help individuals and businesses achieve their goals.
Networking is one of my favourite pastimes.
It’s just an observation, but collectively (myself included) we appear to have lost some of our abilities to use the networking tool over the past two or three years.
I’m hearing people, who used to turn a phrase, caught searching for words while others, who had built confidence, appear to be searching for it again.
Those that were previously masters at gaining knowledge are leaving networking sessions empty-handed, and the introverts among us are struggling to muster the courage to even attend an event.
There also seems to be an acceptance that you can operate in business development with an upgraded subscription to LinkedIn as the sole source of building a pipeline.
As I write this, messages are filling my inbox, with people reaching out to sell me something completely unrelated to my profession.
It doesn’t seem like the best strategy.
Nothing beats human interaction, and boy did I miss it during the pandemic.
The cognitive process of listening, processing, and responding succinctly is an art form and one that can be honed as a powerful weapon in a group setting.
If you are feeling rusty, the solution isn’t to lock yourself away.
It’s time to revive the magic of in-person events and understand the science behind why they are so valuable to you and your business.
The most important aspect of networking is being authentic. People can quickly spot a fake, and it can damage your reputation if you come across as insincere.
Be yourself, and don’t try to be someone you’re not. Share your experiences, insights, knowledge, and engage with others in a genuine and honest way.
Focus on building relationships
Networking is not about collecting contacts; it’s about building relationships.
Instead of focusing on the number of followers or connections you have, focus on developing meaningful relationships with people in your industry.
Take the time to get to know people, engage with them regularly, and show a genuine interest in their work.
One of the best ways to build relationships is to provide value. Share your knowledge and expertise with others, answer questions, and provide helpful insights.
By providing value, you establish yourself as a thought leader in your field and build trust with others.
Networking is not a one-time activity, it’s an ongoing process. To be successful at networking, you need to stay active and engaged.
Participate in online discussions, attend virtual events and engage with others regularly.
By staying active, you keep your name and your expertise top of mind with others in your industry.
While it’s essential to be active and engaged in your networking activities, it’s also important to be strategic.
Identify your goals and objectives for networking, and then focus your efforts on activities that will help you achieve those goals.
For example, if your goal is to find a new job, focus on building relationships with people in your target industry.
Networking takes time and patience. It’s unlikely that you’ll see immediate results from your networking efforts, so be patient and keep working at it.
Remember that networking is an ongoing process, and the relationships you build today may not pay off for months or even years down the line.
Finally, it’s important to maintain professionalism in all of your networking activities.
Avoid controversial or divisive topics, and always treat others with respect and dignity. Remember, one inappropriate comment can bring down all the work you have done individually and for your company.
Regardless of the profession you find yourself in, let your hair down a little, and get back to in-person events.
Bring a warm smile, a firm handshake, and some eye contact for good measure and you’ll be right as rain.
I’d love to catch up with you out and about over the next few months.
- Peter Schravemade is the Managing Partner for REACH Asia/Pacific, you can join him for networking at any of these locations over the next two months.
- The REIQ Roadshow throughout Queensland all of May.
The REINZ in Auckland on May 25th,
AREC on May 28th and 29th and Elite Retreat in Bali, July 3rd – 6th.