How to Network Effectively and Who Should Get Involved
Networks generate opportunities. It’s true for all professionals at every stage of their development. Whether you’re a professional looking to climb the corporate ladder, an entrepreneur who wants to scale their company, or a recent graduate who is seeking a big break in joining a firm, building a good network helps you interact with people and gain an advantage in business.
But to access your network effectively, you need to think about who is within your network, what other connections may be beneficial (to you and your clients) and know who and how to reach out to when the time comes. Here’s a few tips.
- Start with your existing network
Networking isn’t only about meeting and connecting with new people. Nurturing existing relationships is a far more efficient way of networking when you already have a foot in the door.
Take time to assess these contacts, and mark the people you interacted with in the previous six months. If you discussed business in person, it’s likely you learned somewhat about their goals and their business, so can take the next step towards assisting them further with professional advice. It’s also likely that you have built trust and can ask them to refer others to you.
- Organise your network to make it more effective
It’s likely you have multiple networks – a network of fellow advisors, a network of contacts within an industry, a network of colleagues in your firm. Once you have a clear understanding of who belongs in your networks, divide it into further groups. First; group people according to the type of relationship you have with them: personal or professional. Then make the distinction in your professional network between people inside and outside your company.
These three groups determine your behavior and attitude towards each member in your network. But it also helps you predict what kind of business opportunity or mutual assistance you can expect to hear from each person.
- Identify your role within the network
Are you a central figure holding the system together? Or are you an equal participant in the interactions of the group? Evaluating group dynamics and how the relationships formed allows you to define your role in the network.
For example, if you look at the network inside your firm (or inside your local office), each relationship may be equal. In that case, your role is peripheral. But when it comes to your clients, you have a central role because each person depends on you to hold the network together.
- Access the full potential of your network
The real strength of networking rests in your contacts and the relationships they have with other people. Their connections can assist to extend your network indirectly and help you find new personal and professional opportunities. But to involve them in your network directly, you need to set clear expectations for your shared contact first.
Always be direct when requesting someone to set up a meeting on your behalf. Unless you are open about your intentions, you run the risk of making that person feel manipulated and losing them from your network.
- Start networking
The only way to learn how to network effectively is to do it. Start small and reconnect with a contact from your existing network with whom you haven’t interacted for some time. When you feel confident, try to set up a meeting with an indirect contact or attend an event to meet new people. The best way to get better is through lots of experience.
Ready to take advantage of networking opportunities? We can help. Get involved with the Thought Leadership Initiative and gain valuable insight and practical skills required to be good at networking. Contact us today to learn more about what we have planned for you.