Networking is definitely an overused word within the modern workplace society BUT if you look at what is really means in “the real world” it is definitely an essential part of developing your career and ensuring you raise the awareness of your brand in your field of expertise.
What do I mean by “real world”
I see networking as building long term business relationships over many years with individuals who you have their trust and confidence. These may be work colleagues, current or previous managers, clients and general industry connections you have met along the way.
These are people that you can rely on and who will vouch for you in your time of need.
My story, one of many:
About 10 years or so ago, I signed up for a development course which was run by the ALC (Australian Logistics Council) and therefore the attendee list were from companies within my field. We had a 1 hour conference call each week for 10 weeks and over that time we got to know the other attendees in the course quite well.
One of the attendee’s and I “we clicked”, let’s call her Sandy, we had very similar career goals and likeminded people so we stayed connected on a purely professional level.
Fast forward about 8 years and I was in a situation where I wanted to become a member of a selective organization, lets call them … Grease Lightning … they were a very exclusive and specialized group of people of which I needed a sponsor to be able to join. On a personal level I wanted to join their group as I loved their ethos, message and I aligned with their values and wanted to be a part of something new and exciting!
Yep you guessed it! Sandy (which I didn’t know at the time) was on the Senior Executive team and she vouched for me and hence I could become a member of the Grease Lightning team.
Networking isn’t about turning up to industry functions, getting stacks of business cards, its about creating meaningful business relationships along the way in your career with people who have the same business philosophy’s as you.
I rely on my trusted network frequently for a variety of reasons, I know I can pick up the phone, email my contacts and I know they will be there for me as I will be for them and any information shared is held in confidence.
Building business relationships is a valuable investment – for the effort you put in, you will surely get the return.