Forming strong working relationships takes time, patience and trust, whether this is with your colleagues, existing customer base, or new clients. There are many ways to form those relationships, but none can make the process as easy as networking. A classic cornerstone of businesses the world over, networking is a tried and true way to not only make new connections, but strengthen existing ones.
Nearly 85% of jobs are filled via networking – Fast Company
In today’s connected world, networking can be undertaken online, as well as face-to-face. Social media channels such as LinkedIn give us the opportunity to create network foundations before we even meet our new colleagues or clients, while business events, conferences and opportunities to meet ‘in person’ remain as popular as ever. The path may vary sometimes, but essentially, the goal is always the same – to mingle, to mix and to meet new people, making strategic partnerships and connections that will benefit our businesses and our working lives.
Seventy-two percent of people say their impressions are impacted by how someone appears and their handshake. Those all-important first impressions can have an instant effect on any fledgling relationship. It’s imperative that you present yourself, and your business, professionally at any networking event; you may want to practise introducing yourself and your company with a colleague, and give each other feedback as to how you can improve the initial impression you make. Remember to keep it appropriate and pleasant, and refrain from treating networking opportunities too much like a sales pitch – relaxed and natural is best; don’t force the direction of conversation.
Seventy-two percent of people say their impressions are impacted by how someone appears and their handshake
One in four of us don’t network at all – could this be hindering your career? Networking isn’t exclusively for external events; we need to place an importance on internal networking, and how this can be to the advantage of yourself and the business. Having a strong understanding of your colleagues’ knowledge base and expertise (in and out of the workplace) is crucial in creating better collaboration between you. Stronger internal relationships can lead to better productivity and creativity, and can also provide you with opportunities in the workplace that you may otherwise have missed. Remember, everyone values a team player!
One in four of us don’t network at all
Forty-one percent of networkers want to network more frequently, but are too busy. Short on time? It’s all about choosing the right event for you, by determining your interests and ultimate goal. For example, there’s no point attending an event that prioritises new business connections, if you’re really looking to leverage connections to find a new role; it’s equally as unfulfilling attending a general industry event if you’re personally wanting to connect with others who possess the same specific responsibilities at work as you do. Look for what excites you, what interests you, and what you want to achieve, and prioritise appropriately.
Forty-one percent of networkers want to network more frequently, but are too busy
If you’re still pressed for time to effectively network, then perhaps the online world can help. Only 11% of LinkedIn users have more than 100 people in their network, so it seems most of us have some work to do in using the online networking platform effectively. Digital networking is equally important as internal and external networks; the impact of sites such as LinkedIn give us the space to communicate with people we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to – on a global scale.
Only 11% of LinkedIn users have more than 100 people in their network
No matter the approach you take, the power of networking is undeniable>; the right connection might just change our working lives for the better. With a world of exciting opportunity held within each new meeting, and a vast array of ways to meet people (online, face-to-face at a variety of different events), networking will no doubt continue to be a positive and popular tool for every business-savvy employee out there.