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RELATIONSHIPS take time to build. We rarely fall in love at first sight. We have to build trust and nurture a connection before we eventually decide that we like a person, and this takes time.
The same principles apply to networking. When people hear the word “networking”, they immediately picture boring cocktail parties involving stilted conversations with self-absorbed people.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Good networking is all about building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. Cocktail parties may be the first point of contact, but they represent only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to true relationship and network building.
In my training and consulting work, I have found that people avoid networking for a number of reasons.
The main ones are the following:
1. I don’t have enough time
Firstly, I believe that when people make the mind shift away from “It’s what you know” to “It’s who you know” in the business environment today, radical career change occurs.
When business people awaken to the true impact that networking can have, they begin to see its strategic value.
They realise that the time they spend networking actually represents a very valuable investment in their careers.
2.Networking is only for sales people – I see it as a schmoozing session and not being authentically me
Now, more than ever, business people need to have a well developed business network. Networks provide private information, power and influence – all of which are vital in giving leaders the edge in an increasingly competitive business environment. This principle applies across the board – from actuaries to personal assistants, from the entrepreneurial world to the corporate world. There are no exceptions.
3. I’m an introvert, and only extroverts are good networkers
This is fundamentally not true – in fact, some of the best networkers I know are shy and introverted. This is because shy people have the ability to listen attentively to the person talking, which allows them to quickly discover where the business connection may lie.
Extroverts are too busy focusing on their favourite subject – “me, me, me” – which does not facilitate good networking. If you’re doing all the talking, you’re not doing good networking.
Put a system in place and start making your network work!
lHelen Nicholson is known as the “networking queen” by her clients. She has written the best-selling book Networking: Get your black belt in business success. For articles and details on networking workshops, contact her at helen@thenetworking company.co.za