How to take the networking to the next level?
Continuing the topic of power of networking, this time round we would like to bring attention to tools and techniques allowing you to become more proficient with networking.
According to LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2020: How people around the world feel about the opportunity, individuals with stronger and more diverse professional networks are more likely to be optimistic about their opportunities, both on a personal and professional level, than those without. “Globally, 76% of respondents believe that knowing the right people and having the right connections is key to getting ahead in life, yet only 22% are actively looking for networking and mentorship opportunities — likely because a majority of respondents (51%) believe that the lack of a network is a difficult challenge to overcome” (LinkedIn, 2020).
This indicates that developing a network of connections is a powerful tool to have and an inevitable facet of achieving success. Let’s concentrate on the professional aspects of having a strong network of connections and analyze job seeking aspect. Based on the Jobvite.com survey a considerable number of respondents is looking for jobs either via professional connections or friends: 36% and 45% accordingly.
As much as there is enough evidence confirming the power of networking, for many of us reaching out to new people, to build up own network community, finds stressful. Fortunately, networking is a skill and skills can be taught and practiced. Erin Eatough (2021) lists four powerful ways to improve your networking habits. These are:
- Choosing right people
- Be actively involved in networking
- Practicing networking on every available occasion
- Working on your body language
Choosing the right people
Networking is all about forming relationships, whether we speak of personal or professional networks it is still about building relationships. The truth is that by pressing the “connect button” or even arranging a single meeting is not getting you too much closer to the person. Networking requires staying in touch on more often basis. Only with enough effort you can build closer and warmer connections that can contribute to something bigger and better in the future.
A common mistake people do is to choose connections based on best/highest title and not shared common interests. Connecting with individuals you have nothing really in common has nothing to do with building the connection. It is nothing more than adding individuals to the list of connections, which hardly ever transforms into a relation.
Be actively involved in networking
As suggested by Eatough (2021) seeing a job listing or an article that you think someone within your network may find interesting, share it with them. This is an excellent way to catch up after a longer break and realizing people that you are a carrying person. There is no harm in being proactive about sharing information and opportunities with your network, even before they ask.
By referring someone you know for a job, you not only contribute to company’s growth or simplify the talent acquisition process but also have an opportunity to create or influence company’s culture (Jobvite.com, 2021). According to the survey conducted by jobvite.com 66% of satisfied with their companies and jobs employees are eager to invite those in their network to join them. By doing this they share the success of bringing into the company quality talent and at the same time have the opportunity to work with people whom they know and like.
Practicing networking on every available occasion
Finding networking opportunity is easy and does not require too much of an effort. For individuals wishing to practice it and gaining more experience in networking, looking for the opportunities in the most trivial moments and places like shop, elevator or during waiting for coffee is everything they need to get more proficient. The key here is open attitude ready to connect with new people and an opportunity to discover something new regardless of where you are.
Once you gain ease with networking start attending professional events. With time you will build up enough confidence to further expand your network wherever you go.
Working on your body language
While confidence is crucial, body language plays as much importance. Open and welcoming body language is essential for networking, especially in f2f contacts. Relaxed posture, open arms, uncrossed legs, keeping eye contact, head nodding to confirm you are actively listening, voice tone and pace, and smile can help you to break the thickest ice as they indicate your openness to connection (Tegano, 2022).
Shifting your attitude and implementing these four simple rules, will not turn you into a networking expert straight away, but it will help you in becoming one. And certainly, it will contribute towards building meaningful and impactful relationships anywhere you go and making best most out of networking opportunities.
Eatough, E. (2021) “What is networking and why is it so important?” https://www.betterup.com/blog/networking#:~:text=Networking%20contributes%20to%20your%20social,Networking%20boosts%20your%20professional%20confidence (Accessed: 7 September 2022)
Jobvite (2020) “Job Seeker Nation Survey 2020 When Change is the Only Constant” FINAL-Jobvite-JobSeekerNation-Report1_5-11.pdf (Accessed: 7 September 2022)
LinkedIn (2020) “LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2020: How people around the world feel about opportunity”, https://economicgraph.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/business/en-us/talent-solutions/emerging-jobs-report/pdf/LinkedIn-Opportunity-Index-2020-Global-White-paper.pdf (Accessed: 7 September 2022)
Tegano, R. (2022) Better up “Nonverbal communication in the workplace: The secret to team trust”, Nonverbal Communication in the Workplace: the Secret to Team Trust (betterup.com) (Accessed: 16 September 2022)