Everybody these days seems to be engaged in Networking. But you have to question how many people actually know WHY they are networking.
Is it something we do because it is the latest trend or do we have goal which we like to achieve for which networking is the correct tool to choose.
As authors of the N-Factor, we do speaking engagement on the topic of Networking all over the world. The discussion at the end of the official presentation, and the questions that get asked, show how little people really think about why they are networking. It just seems that they feel they should…..
The majority of people that does use networking consciously – use it to find a better or at least different job.
It seems to be cool to have a large sized network. People brag about the fact that they have "15,000 contacts in LinkedIn" or "1000+ friends" on Facebook…. My question is "So What" – is this really all about quality or quantity. Experience shows that people can have the greatest amount of contacts in the world….but don’t have a clue on what to do with them, or how to use those contacts to achieve their goals or help those contacts achieve theirs.
Which leads to another point…networking is a two-way street. Networking is not about a long list of contacts, it is about the personal relationship you have with each of the people BEHIND those contact details. You have to like people, and want to be in communication with them and you need to spend the time on that communication. If you have simply connected once but never followed up – in a few months those contacts will not recognize your name if you were to call them. That is not networking.
These days, the term Connecting is more and more often used. Connecting is a different variation on the theme of networking. Connecting is more personable, you bring two people together with a common interest or business goal.
Whether you call it Networking or Connecting is most definitely not only for your personal gain – you could also use these contacts for your favourite charity or to help someone else with something they aspire to.
This is what Networking really is all about – the ability not only to maintain a personal relationship but also to see that it can strengthen both you and your contact’s position by utilising that relationship when and where appropriate. a 1000 of these contacts are worth more then hundreds of thousands names in your online address book.
First of all – ask yourself the question – why do you network – and then go out and build those relationships!