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Strength of Networking

28.02.2020

Networking

 

 

 

Strength of Networking

 

 

While networking is constantly encouraged as a beneficial ingredient for career advancement, it is not natural for many people.

And indeed, many people feel uncomfortable starting a conversation with a complete stranger at a conference or networking event. Consequently, networking is forced rather than a natural and enjoyable activity, in everyday life.

As a headhunter, in regular contact with diverse, multicultural professionals, I perceive networking from a very specific perspective. And, every January I receive an abundance of CVs from new and old contacts with new years’ resolutions for career advancement. Consequently, networking is high on the agenda for those with a real desire to change jobs and take on new challenges.

While my initial interaction focuses on understanding their career aspirations and the “whys”, networking is always part of the discussion. And, surprisingly enough, many people admit that networking has taken a back seat due to lack of time, etc… In addition, they talk about re-igniting networks and reconnecting with potentially interesting people, however, it is not as easy as it sounds.

While some are natural networkers and feel comfortable with this challenge, others are timid at networking.

Most of all, natural networkers enjoy meeting new people and are able to detect what might interest the other person. Furthermore, they tend to be very curious, good listeners with the ability to assess common interests and introduce others to new people. More importantly, networking is not a one way street for these people …. By this I mean, they are good at asking, at assessing and at giving back leveraging the dual interest for both parties.

And, in many cases, these people have diverse networks, including friends, family, work colleagues, business connections, professional networks, sports, social networks, etc.. As a result, they are authentic networkers, very proactive with connections and antennas across many different interesting worlds.

While, the more timid networker tends to lack confidence outside of his/her comfort zone.  Most of all, they prefer to connect more with like-minded people in their own specific area of expertise. Naturally this limits their “reach” across a broader cross-section of networks and makes it more difficult to expand later on. In general, these people need to invest more time in establishing relationships, and tend to be more resistant than consistent.

Value of Networking

First of all, networking is invaluable when interested in a company or indeed when preparing for an interview.  And, it is beneficial to connect with people inside the company to grasp the corporate culture, the management style, etc..

Secondly, a valuable network can also be very interesting when seeking expertise services or knowledge outside your core competency. And, you can leverage your network to find the experts you need or  connect with them for better references.

In addition, networking is a skill that many companies appreciate and actively seek when recruiting future employees. And regardless of what one might think, this applies to all functional areas, across many different sectors and regions.

As many positions today are transversal, it is vital to connect with others, when working in multidisciplinary teams.

And, for those who like networking, this is a natural skill.  They have no problem taking the phone, cold calling and connecting with others. However, for more timid networkers, this is the opposite.

Finally, developing a network gives us the opportunity to give back, advise and share experiences with others. Especially relevant, it exposes us to a broader community of people, skills, sectors, functional areas, corporate environments and multicultural challenges. So, the advantages and benefits outweigh the many challenges when building a valuable network. And, this is why the “stop & go” networking strategy does not make sense. In other words, the value of networking comes with long-term perspective, instead of building a network for immediate needs.

As Simon Sinek says “The value of networking is not measured by the number of people we meet, but by the number of people we introduce to others.” 

On a final note, I invite you to listen to this interesting video with Charles Galunic, INSEAD professor of Organisational Behaviour. It provides tips, insights & research indicating how reaching out and making new connections can enhance performance and drive innovation.

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