As a Talent Management professional I have worked with many corporate professionals in a variety of industries including technology, non profit, hospitality, biotechnology, and government. One thing that working professionals tend to over look is the value of networking and the impact it can have on your career. It's not just about who you know, rather how do you leverage the network that you already have. Even if you aren’t a very extroverted type of person, networking can benefit you in a number of ways.
Recently one of my clients asked me - How can Introverts be successful in networking? To answer that question let’s start with 3 things that networking is NOT.
#1 - Meeting a bunch of people, is not necessarily networking. Networking is about building relationships not simply the act of collecting business cards. For networking to be successful for anyone, we need to understand that relationship building is key. Its best practice to build your network before you ever need it. When meeting new professionals, cultivating and maintaining that relationship over time is key. Get to know others, and allow others to get to know you professionally.
#2 - Meeting people only when you need a new job. A mistake I see professionals make time and time again, is that when they are comfortable with their jobs they simply check out of building relationships because they don’t think they need it. Building relationships is not just about when you need help. Sharing information with your network is a great way to engage your contacts. Also, while you may not have any needs at the moment perhaps there is something you can do to help one of your contacts. Introvert or not, its about quality relationships not quantity.
#3 - Attending events = networking. This point is one of my favorites. I too share introverted qualities and discovered that the best networking happens outside of “networking” events. Networking events are great in that you get exposed to new ideas or find new motivations. But do not under estimate the simple coffee/tea conversations. Meeting with 1 person is still networking even when the benefit is not readily apparent. Again, if we focus on building relationships then you stand to gain more value out of having personal conversations with individuals when you have their undivided attention. And lastly, the people you do know, can always introduce you to the people you want to know.
Need more coaching on how to leverage your current network to continue building before you need it? Contact Career Therapy to schedule a FREE consultation!
Gusti Clark has dedicated her career to enabling paths and access to career opportunities.