As part of our recent webinar our guest speaker, Lisa Jones from Women on Boards, discussed the importance of networking and how to maximise this valuable skill and we wanted to highlight how to achieve more through the power of networking.
As 75% of new jobs are actually found through the hidden job market via networking and 85% of investment in new businesses comes through networking this is absolutely key for career development and to being successful and there is definitely more to it than exchanging business cards or chatting over drinks and snacks!
When done well networking can clearly open the door to job opportunities, as well as land new clients and top talent for future hiring, but there are now so many ways to go about this that it can be a minefield. The principles however remain the same and networking is about cultivating social and professional relationships to further your business or career whether that is online, in work, or through hobbies or extracurricular activities.
Your network will clearly fall in to three areas:
Operational – these contacts will enable you to do your job well, they are a lot easier to navigate as they are generally your colleagues.
Strategic – these are more challenging to connect with and outside of your team and division – who else do you need to know in the organisation and what about the wider industry you are in? Who should you know? Who are you following?
Personal – who do you know within your personal connections who can help and influence your career development?
How to Network Well
A great networker will know what they want and make their achievements known, they will have their story and a little narrative and see networking as a conversation with a purpose. They will then stay in touch with that person using knowledge to support their introduction – “could you put me in touch with someone?” and knowing that having a purpose is key. They will also know that they will need to “give before they get” - one of the biggest mistakes people make is jumping the gun when asking for a favour. Networking ebbs and flows in all directions and it is important to think about what you can offer them before asking for something.
Investing time and effort in to this activity will pay off – you have to see it as part of your job diarise 30 minutes a week and set an objective of building, maybe, one new contact a week. It is not a numbers game it is about quality not quantity.
Check your Network
Lisa mentioned a great exercise to do to soundcheck your network and how it is working for you and this is contained in a book by Zella King and Amanda Scott “Who is in your Personal Boardroom?” in which they discuss having 12 contacts who cover the areas of Information, Power and Development and when this exercise is done you can see which contacts you need to build in order to help you develop.
In order to be successful we all need to develop a network which has depth and breadth and to understand why it is important. Having a Sponsor or Mentor will really help with this process and it is valuable to look at the network around you to see who that person might be.
Good luck and Happy Networking!