(By Eniola Adeniji)
“Networks are absolutely essential for everyone in the workplace. With a strong network of support, we are more effective in the present, more prepared for the future and more of a resource to others.“
Have you seen the disclaimer on television stunt shows, “Do not attempt this at home?” I think our careers should come with a warning like that: “Do not attempt any of this alone!” The truth is we all need a network and to some degree we all have one. It’s the people we know, professionally and personally; our contacts. Networks are absolutely essential for everyone in the workplace. With a strong network of support, we are more effective in the present, more prepared for the future and more of a resource to others. Effective networks connect us to people inside and outside the organization. These connections become conduits of information, insight and support. Here are seven ways to build your personal network.
1. Business cards are a must: If your organization doesn’t provide you with business cards, make the investment in yourself. Have them professionally made and keep them with you always.
2. Take more social initiative: Look for opportunities to meet people. Networking is not an event, it is a discipline.
3. Volunteer: Sign up for causes that matter to you. You will meet people who share your interests and concerns. Common ground is a great foundation to build on.
4. Join organizations of interest: Get involved in industry and community associations. This means more than just showing up occasionally. Your network will only grow to the degree you get involved.
5. Manage your contacts: Instead of building a database, build a knowledge base. Go beyond collecting names and phone numbers. Over time, if you pay attention and ask the right questions of your contacts, they stop being contacts and become colleagues, friends and resources.
6. Add real value: Find out what is important to your contacts. When you see information that may be of value or interest, share it with them. When you meet someone they need to know, make the introduction.
7. Keep in touch: Send thank you notes, birthday cards and holiday greetings. Make opportunities to stay in front of your contacts in meaningful ways.
Networking isn’t just passing out ten thousand business cards at a business fair. That is just an in-person version of spam. Networking is making a real connection, understanding what other people care about and what they are trying to get done.
Source: Connect Nigeria