It has been proven that many job opportunities are first offered as well as announced in-house before being disclosed to the general public. On this premise, how do you ensure you’re always in the inner-circle and opportunities are always close by?
In this day and age of information transference, events, and noise, many of us feel we are networking but in reality aren’t. I found myself going to numerous networking events and getting nothing out of them but a stack of cards and free edibles. Collecting a bunch of business cards and engaging in small talk is not classified as networking, in fact it is only the beginning of an ongoing process. Networking is defined as;
“Interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.”
As you can see, the key word here is develop which connotes an ongoing process. Here are some tips to ensure you’re not busy collecting contacts that you will never call, and that you sustain healthy relationships that will benefit both parties in the long-run.
- Follow-up: I have found that calling or texting someone less than 24 hours after you have met them is an effective way of beginning a great relationship that could benefit you in the long run. We all like to think we are amazing, and nobody will forget us after a first meet, but this is not the truth in every instance. Keep yourself fresh in people’s mind and they will remember you when opportunities arise.
- Have a networking objective: aimless networking is an absolute waste of time. Before going to an event, or introducing yourself to people in other forums on the premises of networking, know the type of people you need to take you to the next level and what in particular you may need from them. Also consider what you have to bring to the table. Your network should consist of people that will help push you towards your ultimate goal. This is imperative because if your networking has no focus, distraction is inevitable.
- Keep in regular contact– we all get excited when we meet new people doing commendable things but 24 hours later we often forget them and are looking for new prospects. If you continue along this path, you will never develop sustainable relationships with people. It is important you keep in touch via text, email, social media or calls to ensure you stay relevant in that person’s mind and so that you will be a point of contact when opportunities arise.
- Information exchange– many people see networking events as a bunch of hungry people looking for who they can use and what they can take, but it shouldn’t be so. Networking should be an exchange of knowledge, information and resources and everyone should win. Regularly keep in touch with people that you meet and ensure that as well as asking for information and opportunities, that you give them information that may be useful to them also.
Remember, these are not just cards you are collecting, they are relationships, so water them and nurture them and contacts will turn into friends in years to come!
About the author: Elizabeth Ayoola is a vibrant writer and spoken word artist who enjoys discussing an array of topics ranging from personal development, to social issues. She manages a spoken word website www.oro.com.ng, as well as a blog about her experiences living in Nigeria at www.themelodiesofajjc.com. You can find her on Twitter @beepoetic.