Networking is not equivalent to cold-calling. It is vital for your career and for your next job whether an in-house promotion or for a new employer. It is the no.1 way of securing your promotion or next job.
Doing it the wrong way, for instance, is calling somebody you’ve lost touch with only when you need a job.
The right way to network involves mutual benefits. It requires that you find out as much as you can about the person before you contact them. It requires that you, at least, go back and say thanks to somebody who has given you a referral. It is an on-going nurturing and building activity – building relationships.
One of the secrets is not to focus on cultivating an extensive network. Build a smaller diverse inner circle for multifaceted mix of advice, feedback, and mutual support. And keep that informal social relationship going as members move on or out of the organisation.
The Gladwell Effect offers guidance about who to include in your inner circle: a Connector, a Maven and an Salesperson. Connectors have the most diverse (creative) networks and in Ireland they are likely to be about three phone calls away from the person you should meet. Mavens have information on a lot of different products or prices or places. While they are less people oriented, their expertise can give you the inside scoop. Salespeople are doers and persuaders and can be critical to tipping you off about your communication strategy.
Networking poorly is worse than not networking at all. It is a skill that starts with overcoming your reluctance to marketing yourself.
You probably need help to recognise the reason for your reluctance to call somebody who could help you. Learn what to say and how to say it. And then practice in a safe environment. The top reason is reluctance to take social risks – fears around being ‘pushy’, loss of friends, being humiliated. And then there’s the procrastination as you over-think the situation.
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