The power of networking!
Over the past few weeks I've been asked by a number of my clients about the importance of networking. How to balance an offline strategy with communicating a personal brand online have been questions raised, in addition to when and how often?
For me networking is a habit, it's something to be done as part of everyday life, whether you're looking for your next position or to develop further business for your current organisation. Many leave networking until they need something – a new job or more business – but this in my opinion is a mistake.
The best time to network, which is essentially building relationships with people you don't yet know, is when you're in a position to give and not take. The more you can assist, add value or help others alleviate problems or exploit opportunities the more things come back to you, maybe not today, tomorrow or next week, but at some point in the future when you least expect it. Taking this approach removes the pressure to sell, which quite frankly rarely works anymore. It's all about the long-term game, which means investing today with no guarantee of a return either now or in the future. For my 'Executive Edge' and 'Jump Start' clients this is 'believing is seeing'! In a recent blog post I advised to have a strategy, be different and to forget selling!
Networking is often seen as something scary, best avoided and the thing many people dread. After all, what could be worse than walking into a room full of strangers or putting yourself out there for all to see online? Many feel uncomfortable because it's quite literally a step out of their comfort zone, which I define as the people you know, the places you go and the things you're used to doing.
If you think about it, networking is about meeting people you don't yet know, often in new surroundings and for those that rarely do it or have never done it before it's most definitely something they're not used to doing. Put another way it's discomfort supercharged in all three areas!
Networking is nothing to be feared and as someone who runs a business-networking group (I'm just back from speaking at an event attended by 130 people) I see the value it delivers to those who are prepared to take that first initial step into the unknown. This is where the 'hidden market' exists (career and business opportunities not yet in the public domain), but the hidden market rarely reveals itself immediately – it's instead about building trust over time. I call this see me > like me > trust me > hire me, which holds true both in the offline and online worlds.
On Wednesday night I ran a webinar with Judy Hoberman, a speaker, sales trainer and executive coach based in Dallas. We discussed three key aspects of networking when it comes to successful executive job search – offline networking (essentially face-to-face), online networking (with particular reference to LinkedIn) and once you've established an initial relationship, how to keep it going moving forward.
To watch the recording, please click here or if you're on the move and would like to listen to the podcast version, you can do that here.
As Judy advises at the end of the webinar, 'just do it' – it's great advice that has served Nike extremely well and it could just do the same for you!