Career & Education – Your Network is Your Net Worth
· Networking is not kissing ass
· Switch your mindset to developing relationships
· How a strong network can accelerate your career
· The most valuable opportunities arise from your network
· Many insights and learning opportunities come from a strong network
There is a common misconception that networking is just going to events to kiss ass to get a job. It might seem like this when you go to these networking events and see other people kissing ass. You may also get the weird feeling having to talk to strangers that are well accomplished in your field.
So what is networking?
Networking means to establish relationships with other professionals in your field and is a valuable relationship for both parties.
Developing the Proper Mindset
Switching your mindset to developing relationships rather than being a kiss ass is going to make you feel less awkward and people will be more receptive to developing a professional relationship with you.
When talking to other professionals in your field, be clear with what your intention is when trying to network with someone. People cannot help you if you are not clear on what you want from them.
Here are a few examples of “asks”:
· Career advice
· If they can provide referrals to you
· Knowledge and insights
· Establishing a mentorship/mentee relationship
· Simply asking how you can help them
Where to go to establish a network
· LinkedIn – LinkedIn is the most convenient and easiest way to network with other professionals. You easily tap into your alumni network and professional network with the search engine LinkedIn has and you can filter results down to the job position in a specific area. Send direct messages to people to get the relationship started and is the least intimidating way to contact someone.
· Conferences and Seminars related to your field – This is the most target rich environment to meet other professionals and you will also be able to learn a lot at these events. Generally, people at these events are open to developing relationships and you should not be bashful.
· The Workplace – You will be surprised at how open people will be to have a quick 15-30 min chat with you in your organization. I reached out to the Chief Investment Officer within my organization and was more than happy to introduce himself to me and begin the process of developing a relationship.
· Referral from people already in your network – You would be surprised with the amount of valuable connections people in your network have. Considering it is a referral, the person you want to connect with already has some sort of trust.
Strong networks can help you accelerate your career
In certain fields, especially in Finance and Business, the best opportunities come from your professional reputation and network. Most of the time it is not the smartest or talented person that gets the promotion or the job, but the person with the strongest network and reputation.
In other fields like Tech, Engineering and Medicine this is not as prominent, but it still plays a very important role. Having a strong network can introduce you to someone that you can partner with to start a company. Many successful companies are started with experienced professionals that partner together. This may work to your advantage because you can find partners that have skillsets and resources that you may not have.
Having a strong network can also lead you to meet investors for your start-up. In addition, if the investors trust you and you have a strong relationship with them, you are more likely to receive investment from them. Because there is already an effective relationship in place, the business relationship in building the company will be easier and more likely to succeed.
With a strong network you may even find people you would like to hire to work for your business. You will also make better hiring decisions because you would already know these people well and can decide if they are the right fit for the position.
The Bottom Line
My belief is that no professional should neglect the power of a strong network, because it just may be that one missing person in your network that can help you transform your career.