So … networking. It’s what people do whilst wearing suits and sipping cocktails isn’t it? Perhaps not…The dictionary defines networking as a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest. Personally when I think of networking I see a group of businessmen and women sharing their business ideas, making new contacts and generally doing the things that I wouldn’t do. But that simply isn’t the case – networking can mean so many things and everyone should do it.
I see networking as making use of your friends, colleagues and contacts. Now I don’t mean ‘making use’ as just using people to get places – because that’s not how I see it. I mean talking to people who may have similar interests to you, finding out about them, what they do, who they know, and letting them share that with you in a way that is beneficial for the both of you.
Recently I got a new job teaching through a friend of mine at university – we had talked about teaching before and she knew really enjoyed it, then when she was ready to leave her teaching job, she volunteered me for the position. Hardly cocktail parties and nibbles, but she used her contact (me) to ensure that when she left her job there was someone trusted taking over. This was beneficial for all parties as it meant she left the job knowing it was in good hands, the school felt they could trust me as she had been such an excellent employee and I got a new job. Brilliant!
Social networking is also a very powerful medium and with professional networks like LinkedIn around, you could acquire a job from the comfort of your bedroom if you’ve made some interesting contacts. Facebook is a useful tool for networking as you can reach such a huge number of people with a simple post. When I posted on Facebook that I had got the teaching job, I was contacted by a past teacher of mine who was looking for someone to do some supply teaching for her. She had seen my post and following on from that she offered me another job.
Talking to people is the key to success – there’s that old saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” and personally I think that rings true whether you are interested in business, performance, teaching – anything. So go out there, be friendly and smile – it gets you everywhere!
Thanks to Sean MacEntee for the picture.