Networking is not an easy task, which might explain why some people are uncomfortable doing it.
Some feel networking is a distraction, while others prefer to rely on their technical expertise to get ahead.
But networking can be a mutually beneficial exercise that helps you achieve your goals.
Networking is something that is incredibly powerful when done appropriately, says Professor Greg Whitwell, Dean of The University of Sydney Business School.
“Networking involves people skills, and using those people skills to achieve purposeful goals,” he says. “Successful networking requires energy and constant attention. It can be very demanding for them and something [leaders] really have to work on.”
While Whitwell says networking can be a challenge almost by definition for people who are introverts, anyone can become an effective networker with the help of these 10 expert tips.
1. Be passionate
Passion is a prerequisite of successful networking. Someone who is really passionate about what they do and what they are trying to achieve is more likely to stand out from the crowd, says Whitwell. “You want people to take notice of you, and give you the time and energy that you’d like to receive from them.”
2. Be trustworthy
“You have to be someone who can be trusted,” says Whitwell. “Trust is the foundation of networking, by that I mean someone who acts in consistent manner, who delivers. Trust is going to be at the basis of developing a long term relationship.”
Successful networking involves recognition that it’s not just me taking advantage of other people. You’ve also got to recognise that for relationships to work…there’s got to be reciprocity.
3. Embrace diversity
Diversity enriches networks. “Be someone who is really keen to hear discordant views, who doesn’t try to shut down the person who’s saying it,” says Whitwell.
4. Assess your network
Whitwell recommends regularly assessing your different networks. Ask yourself, “Have I got the appropriate network? Am I concentrating too much on the operational and/or personal and not paying enough attention to my strategic network?”
5. Give and take
Networking is not a one-way street. It will be a more rewarding experience, and feel less manipulative, if you engage in give and take.
“Successful networking involves recognition that it’s not just me taking advantage of other people,” says Whitwell. “You’ve also got to recognise that for relationships to work, and networking after all is about relationships, there’s got to be reciprocity.”
This means you must be willing to put the time and effort into doing the things that you want others to do for you.