Strenght of Networking

Networking is beneficial and constantly encouraged for career advancement, however, it is not a natural activity for many people.
Some people are “naturals” and enjoy all aspects of networking, constantly initiating new contacts and thinking about how they can be useful to others and open doors.
However, many people feel uncomfortable starting conversations with complete strangers at conferences or networking events. For many, networking is a forced activity in modern life, rather than a natural and enjoyable experience.As headhunters, we constantly connect, converse and reach out to diverse, talented international professionals, across many different sectors and cultural borders. Networking is an integral part of our daily work, and when interacting with candidates we are often amazed at their “stop & go” approach to networking.

At the beginning of every year, many people make New Years’ resolutions to change jobs, employers, advance careers, etc…; and in general, we receive a large abundance of CVs from new and old contacts. So, reaching out to headhunters is high on the agenda to discuss career aspirations, the job market and facilitate a career change.

As headhunters, outside of understanding the “whys”, we always ask about personal, professional networks, enquire about networking activities to evaluate how “connected” the person is.
Surprisingly enough, many people admit that networking has taken a back seat due to lack of time, lack of interest, little credibility that networking works, the reasons are vast…
And, while they realize that networking is an important activity, most people have a “stop & go” approach, only re-igniting networks and reconnecting with old contacts, when really necessary.
We encourage networking activities for personal and professional reasons, participation in conferences in areas of interest, alumni get-togethers, among other activities. Indeed, the broader the networking activities, the more interesting and potentially better for future job search….
Networking is not an easy activity, especially for those who are timid and uncomfortable when reaching out to others. Nonetheless, we learn so much about people from all walks of life, the job market, different sectors, company cultures, make new friendships, etc…
Natural networkers enjoy meeting new people, they are often very curious, good listeners with the ability to build relationships, identify common interests and introduce others to new people. Networking is not a one-way street for them…. They are good at leveraging the dual interest for both parties. And, in many cases, these people have diverse broad networks, including friends, family, work colleagues, business connections, professional networks, sports, social networks, etc.. They are authentic, proactive and very open, with active “antennas” across many different interesting worlds.
The timid networker tends to lack confidence and grows his/her network with like-minded people in his/her own specific area of expertise or social comfort zone.
Hence, the “reach” is limited and, when necessary to develop a broader network, timid networkers need to invest a lot of time, energy and effort to establish new relationships, outside their comfort zone.

Value of Networking

Networking is invaluable when interested in a company or indeed when preparing for a job
interview. Before an interview, it helps a lot to get insight from people inside the company, to better understand the corporate culture, the management style, etc..
Secondly, when seeking specific services or knowledge outside your core expertise, you can leverage a valuable network for referral to find and connect with the experts you need.
Additionally, many companies appreciate and actively seek networking skills when recruiting future employees, for many different functional areas, sectors and regions. As many positions interact with multidisciplinary teams on a transversal basis, it is important to connect with others and enjoy “reaching out”. For those who like networking, this is a natural skill, and they have no problem taking the phone, cold calling and starting the conversation. However, for more timid networkers, this is definitely quite a challenge.
Above all, developing a network gives everyone the opportunity to help others, give back, advise and share valuable experiences. Especially relevant, it exposes you to a broader community of people, skills, sectors, functional areas, corporate and multicultural environments. When building a valuable network, the advantages and benefits outweigh the many challenges. The “stop & go” networking strategy does not make sense, and the value of networking comes with long-term perspective, instead of networking 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 the following two videos on networking.
Hermina Ibarra, Charles Handy Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School (formerly at INSEAD Business School,) explores the importance of networks, debunks common misconceptions about networks, and offers strategies for building effective networks. Ibarra highlights the power of strategic networks, which are critical for career advancement.
According to Hermina Ibarra “Networks are vital to success; they enable you to offer more
and have more impact”. Click here for video