When you first hear the term ‘networking’ it tends to come with a lot of expectations, pressure to execute it perfectly and to have a HUGE set of contacts that you can show off.
Most people tend to forget that it’s not the quantity of contacts, but the quality of those contacts and your relationship with them that makes the difference.
Which is why you should never, ever underestimate the value of a small, quality group of contacts, rather than touting you know everyone in your industry – when in reality you know of them.
Here’s 6 steps to take to check in on your current network, and how to foster meaningful relationships within it, while growing a unique set of quality contacts.
1 // Who are your strongest connections?
Don’t measure ‘strongest connections’ by how many other people they know or if you could potentially land a job through them (that mindset does not mean you approaching this genuinely).
Instead, your stronger connections should be those who inspire you both personally and professionally – because it indicates you want to learn from them.
2 // Evaluate your value proposition.
It’s easy to get caught up in what others can do for us, that we forget networking is a two-way street. Your value proposition helps you look for and build mutually beneficial relationships, because you understand how you can help others.
3 // If you don’t engage, you’ll get nowhere.
#NoFilter alert: You have to put yourself out there if you want to build your Network. Yep, it’s hella scary and nerve-wracking, but you have to start somewhere!
‘Putting yourself out there’ means doing things such as:
> Attending industry events
> Engaging with connections on social media
> Inviting connections to industry events you’re also attending (or hosting)
> Dropping connections a personal message about a recent project you saw they were working on
> Asking for their opinion on an industry-related article
Sound like a lot of effort? Scott Ginsberg, professional speaker and author of The Power of Approachability, gives some intriguing advice: “The most important four letters in the word NETWORKING are W-O-R-K because that’s exactly what it takes.
‘Engaging’ is not just inviting someone to coffee now and again.
4 // Be genuine.
It’s easy to spot someone who is simply speaking to you because they want something. Don’t ruin your reputation by approaching every Manager, CEO or Recruiter in your industry and asking them for an opportunity … word travels pretty quickly!
Instead, choose one or two industry leaders, mentors or peers that you genuinely want to understand more about professionally!
5 // It’s OK to dream big.
While the purpose of this article is to help you realise the benefit of curating a small, valuable network, it is also 100% okay to grow a huge network of connections for yourself! There are pros and cons to both!