Good relationships, be they business or private, never hurt anybody. Especially in business it’s important to surround oneself with likeminded individuals. It still holds true, however, that successes based solely on good relationships are somewhat frowned upon, but we should nevertheless ask ourselves: How likely is it really that that particular co-worker got his or her promotion or higher pay only because of who he or she knows and not based on competencies and good results? Ideally, one should have both: be competent and have a good professional network. Read on to find out how to successfully build one!
Are you still new to the workforce and have no idea about who should be part of your network? Star of by knowing that there are two categories of people of importance for you: the ones having roughly the same career goals as you and the ones who have already reached those goals. With the former, you can exchange ideas about the daily difficulties and challenges in your job and gain some new insights and possible solutions. Furthermore, you’ll stay close to all the new developments in your field of work and gain valuable information about the working conditions in other companies, about payment levels and new trends. Come to an understanding with all participants that everything discussed will be considered off the record and you won’t have to worry about power plays or double crossings. People from the latter category – the ones that have already reached the goals you’ve set out to accomplish as well – may become mentors and designate you as their successor. Not the worst prospects, are they?
Until it comes to that however, you will have to gain the trust of the others. To some people it comes naturally, as their social skills are extremely developed. How they do it? Not only through perfect smalltalk. Good networkers instinctively know that they have to start by offering some tips and good advice themselves. Are you able to provide support either through referrals to good contacts, through practical advice or good ideas? Very well then, in return you can expect the same. Special networking events or congresses in your field of work offer he perfect setting for meeting interesting people.
Don’t forget about the rules for good communication and brush up on your small talking skills. Show your counterpart that they are important to you by attentive listening, intelligent questions and positive and open body language. Don’t head into one of these events unprepared, as you will risk getting stuck in small talk. To make a lasting impression however, you should strive to get beyond that. Always take an appropriate amount of business cards with you and develop a system for dealing with the ones others will hand out to you. One example would be to put the cards of interesting people in your right pocket and uninteresting ones in your left. Your counterpart won’t notice anything, but it will make your life a lot easier once you have to sort through them all after the event.
Still not sold on the importance of good networking? Think about these words of wisdom: Relationships are only bad to those who don’t have any.