3 Networking Habits that Build Robust Relationships
Networking – the term can be both ambiguous and overwhelming. Is it important? Does it add value to your career? And if so, how do you network in a way that connects with people without being another email or phone call people debate returning?
All valid and relatable questions, ones I’ve wrestled with myself. Through my many conversations with job seekers and business leaders, I’ve learned a few steps along the way, ones I believe will help paint the picture of why this can be such a meaningful aspect of your career journey.
Find Your Why
People often say you should always be growing your network. But why? Why is this vitally important? Asking this question is the perfect place to start. Understanding the why, your why, is key to the right foundation for meaningful networking.
As Simon Sinek explains in his well-known TEDTalk, if you don’t know why you do what you do, then how will you ever get people to genuinely connect with you? People respond to our whys, what we believe and are passionate about. For example, you may take a job just because you can do it. If that’s the main reason, you will only work for your paycheck. However, if you believe what your employer or company believes, you will work with sincerity and passion.
When this takes place, networking becomes an inexhaustible pathway for mutual growth and learning for everyone involved. Not only does your intrinsic motivation to make connections increase, but so does your ability to engage others and your capacity to help. When you offer your business expertise and skills, you also glean value from those you support, unlocking the ability to present greater services to your contacts, both now and in the future.
Create Connections, Not Transactions
Social media can often be your introduction to new people, almost like a virtual handshake, so what do you want people to know about you from first scroll? Your title and experience play a part, but does your profile marry both your professionalism and personality? Some like to describe it as your elevator pitch – a brief synopsis that packs a punch or tells a story. Just make sure the details don’t put them to sleep (like actual elevator music).
Once you’ve infused your professional social presence with a bit of personality, create and comment on content that makes a complementary reflection of those details. For example, just because someone is in sales doesn’t mean they can only write posts about the sales industry. But if in your profile you talk about how much you value work-life balance and you’ve shared an article that talks about that very topic, you reflect a genuine reliability. What you say about yourself matches what you are posting and commenting about.
And don’t shy away from networking events or coffee meetings. They may not produce a job offer or opportunity right away, but as you continue to connect with people, your connections grow organically. Ask new connections questions about their roles, their industry – show an interest in their world (they may even reciprocate the same kinds of questions). And when a need arises, a problem or opportunity that’s specifically in your wheelhouse, those same people will know exactly who to reach out to.
Follow Up – Don’t Dash for the Door
You may have been taught that it’s always polite to say thank you, and that wisdom still holds true today. Gratefulness is a hallmark of healthy relationships on almost any level. But don’t just leave it at “thank you” and check the task off your list.
What exactly are you grateful for? Was one of their comments particularly helpful? Did their perspective show you something you never would have seen on your own? Then tell the person exactly that! Life is busy and chaotic, and we often forget to tell people the whys for our thankfulness (yep, Simon Sinek’s logic even applies to thank you notes).
On top of that, is there something you can offer in return? Maybe their organization is going through a particularly trying time. Ask them how they are doing – check up on them. Or perhaps someone is wrestling through options for their own career choice. Is there an article or piece of advice that might be a timely encouragement? Or did you find a tip about a new job opportunity that might be the perfect fit for them? Then tell them! Creating a network inherently means creating support, and don’t we all need support some days?
Maybe these steps weren’t what you envisioned initially when you thought of networking. And while there are undoubtedly practical steps out there to increase followers and connections, networking isn’t so much a formula as a building block. When you build on your whys and find others who enhance them (and you reciprocate), you weave longevity into your relationships. And those will always be worthwhile, wherever your career takes you.
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