Quick quiz. Which of these do you agree with?
- Networking is a brilliant way to raise my profile.
- Networking offers fantastic opportunities to connect and collaborate.
- Networking is a chore that you’ve got to get done.
- There’s no point networking unless I’m jobhunting.
If you agreed with the first two statements, you’re coming from a positive networking mindset. If you agreed with the second two, you’re approaching networking with a negative mindset.
Let’s take a few minutes explore these different approaches to networking.
Networking raises your profile
It’s true. Networking is a good way to raise your profile and get yourself known in a wider circle, whether that’s in-house or outside the organisation.
If you work for a large firm, take time to understand the projects, clients and activities that other teams and departments are working on. This gives you the more strategic view of your firm. When you can see the bigger picture, you are in a better position to service your clients and cross-refer as appropriate. Clients enjoy working with people who are ‘switched on’ and know what else is happening in the organisation. In their eyes, it raises your status. And that’s got to be good for your career.
Outside of your organisation, networking raises your profile among competitors and suppliers. Right now, that might seem unimportant. However when it comes to jobhunting, or if you are faced with redundancy, a good solid network stands you in very good stead. You are more likely to receive referrals in when you network regularly.
Interesting career and work opportunities are more likely to come your way, simply because we all would much rather work with somebody who comes recommended.
Networking is about connection and collaboration
Networking is one of the best ways to connect and collaborate with others. There are very few truly unique challenges. The software might be different; the personalities might be different; the location might be different.
When you are faced with a particular challenge, somebody in your networking will have already dealt with it and you can learn from their approach. Networking provides you with new ideas and fresh perspective when you share experiences. Every firm, every organisation approaches challenges in a different way and we can learn from each other.
The more senior you are in your organisation, often the more isolated you start to feel because you are not always ready, willing or able to share the challenges you face with your peers or your staff.
Networking with people in a similar role to you, whether or not in the same industry, can really help to minimise the isolation you might be feeling.
Networking doesn’t have to be a chore
Networking doesn’t have to be a chore. It doesn’t have to be big and noisy. Networking can be fun when you find the right event.
Networking comes in so many different shapes and forms that even introverts can learn to enjoy networking. Networking can be online or face-to-face. Big conferences, training days, user group meetings or even a simple meet-up over a coffee. What about fresh air networking? Out on the golf course or walking in the woods. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. In-house or external. Industry or role specific. There’s bound to be a form of networking that suits you.
Networking is for life, not just for job hunting
If the only time that you start to focus on networking is when you are job hunting, you are missing a trick.
True, many people find their next opportunity through networking, however you can’t just rock up to a networking event and expect to find a new job. Networking is about developing and building relationships over time. It’s about being of service to others, being helpful, sharing ideas ….. and the opportunities will follow.
When you are helpful, knowledgeable, informative … people will remember you. But not forever. Networking is an ongoing process. It’s important to continue to build those relationships.
How do women in the City benefit from networking?
- raise your profile
- strengthen relationships
- expose you to fresh ideas
- minimises isolation
- extend your support network
- accelerate your career progression
- open doors to interesting opportunities
I hope that you now see the many advantages and variety of networking available. I love networking so much that I run two networking groups. One is all about fresh air networking on woodland walks, and City Conversations is for leading women in the City through connection, collaboration and growth. I’d love you to join me at one or both.
What do you enjoy about networking or do you approach networking with a negative mindset? If so, what would encourage you to give it a go more often?
Additional networking resources
- How to start a conversation at networking events – READ HERE.
- How to enjoy networking even if you’re an introvert – READ HERE.
- How to network confidently on LinkedIn – READ HERE.
- Top tips on networking for career or business – LISTEN HERE.
- How to network when on a career break – READ HERE.
- Networking directory – READ HERE.