You don’t understand networking? No surprise there, many people don’t understand networking or have a total misconception of what it is and how it works. True networking has never been hard for me but that is because I like people and I have this innate desire to help people that bubbles out all the time. I am told that I wear my heart on my sleeve, which gets tricky as an entrepreneur because some people will take advantage of that but I digress. Today we need to talk about networking and why you need to make it a part of your every day life.
But I don’t understand networking!
I know. You think it is going to Chamber of Commerce meetings or Business Network International meetings or many other meetings and passing out business cards. You can network at those meetings but most people don’t know how. You might think that if you have a LinkedIn account you are networking and you could be but many people still don’t understand networking even though they are on LinkedIn.
Think of networking as nurturing.
- Seeing a need and fixing it.
- Helping someone out even though there is nothing in it for you.
- Building connections with strangers just because you like something about them.
- Being aware of your surroundings and the people in it and thinking “how can I help you?”
Am I already networking?
Probably. Most of us have a network without knowing it.
- Your plumber stops your leak and you recommend him to your neighbors because he is part of your network.
- You love the way your hairdresser does your hair so you tell your friends, that’s networking.
- You know when your car brakes need replacing, your favorite auto mechanic will be able to fix it.
- Your computer breaks and you know just who to call.
- You have someone in your network to recommend for almost every problem, that’s networking.
What happens when networking works?
I could tell you networking works stories all day but the one that comes to mind for me as a business person is when one person from a company called me in December 2012. She hired me to work with her and write her resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letters, and coach her on ways to get a new role when her role as Area Development Manager ended.
How she helped me:
- She referred me to someone right after we started working together and between the two of them, I began to get referral after referral.
- Eventually, I was referred to someone who planned to leave the company but after working with me, she was offered the Presidency of this multi-million dollar company.
- When the company was acquired and restructured in 2015, that President sent client after client of executive tier clients to work with me.
- All great people and I welcome all of them into my network.
- KEY: I wouldn’t know any of these fantastic successful people if it hadn’t been for the one person who shared my name!
This is the tip of the iceberg. I could tell you stories about so many others.
- One young lady started another chain reaction of referrals in 2014 by sharing my name enthusiastically with her friends in corporate America.
- I am still working with people she has referred today too.
- Networking works!
- Build your value.
- Help others.
- Connect with people with each other.
What about my job search networking?
Most people are just too afraid to ask. LinkedIn comes in really handy because we can understand who knows who at what company. If you build a robust LinkedIn network, you will always know who to reach out to get the right help. I coach my clients on how to overcome the fear of asking for help and use their network. The best networker is the one who will be there for someone else when they are in need.
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