To be honest, the thought of networking sends chills down my spine. However, real networking doesn’t need to feel forced or uncomfortable and doesn’t have to involve a room full of strangers. If your networking nightmare is turning up to seminars and business breakfasts, hoping to make a meaningful contact, read on.
Clever networking can be about connecting with people within your division or in another division at your workplace. It could be connecting in with other parents at your child’s school or reconnecting with old workmates.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine, in her article: ‘Five Networking Strategies Even the Shy Professional Can Use’ for Forbes, suggests some useful strategies for effective networking:
- Enlisting the support of your Manager to help you connect with people within their network (both inside and outside your business). Most Managers would be happy to support this activity in the name of professional development.
- If you work within a large business, you can request to be included in a cross-functional project where you will be exposed to people outside your immediate division.
- Set targets for yourself such as reconnecting with 5 ex colleagues, introducing yourself to 3 new people or posting twice a month to Linked In. By making it a challenge, you will be more likely to achieve it, rather than becoming overwhelmed or anxious
- Join a group or cause that you feel passionate about. The thing is, the more you care about a subject, the more likely it is that people will want to make a connection with you. Quite often, it’s that quality of charisma that people feel drawn to. Charisma will emerge when you speak up or otherwise take action on those issues about which you feel strongly – Robert Steven Kaplan.
- Be a thought leader and post relevant content to LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great tool to start and continue online conversations. You can join groups on topics related to you and post blog content to start conversations. Making insightful comments on content that others post is another way to develop meaningful connections.
If you would like support with developing your networking strategy, speak to the Recruitment Consultants at Flexi Personnel.