Networking is another word for developing professional and social relationships.
For some, it may be a fun time. “Rubbing elbows with people I aspire to be like?! I can’t wait to be buddies and learn from them!”
For others, it seems more nightmarish. “I’d rather crawl under a rock than subject myself to social gatherings. Everybody knows everybody, and I’ll be left out. Besides, I’m too busy for that.”
Well, allow us to explain what networking is all about. We hope to convince you how important it is in life and business and give you some how-to tips along the way.
“No Man Is an Island”
For optimal productivity and success, you need people. None of us can entirely rely on ourselves, and only ourselves, to get through life. The same is true for you and your business. So, get comfy with the idea that you can’t do everything. Look for areas in your life and business where someone else could do it faster or better.
“It’s Not What You Know but Who You Know”
I hate to admit it, but I was very much against the above phrase growing up. I was in disbelief when my friend’s mom said it after my friend didn’t make the middle school volleyball team on her first try. To suggest her daughter didn’t make the team because the coach chose her “favorites” instead?!
However, with age comes wisdom. Now I see that Mom knew a thing or two that my naive heart didn’t—knowing people gives you a leg up in life.
Job interviews, sales pitches, the middle school volleyball team—you better your chances of getting what you want when decision-makers know you. They would love to give you opportunities because they know you and feel connected to you.
Networking Is About Relationships and Helping
Networking is a fun, grown-up word for establishing relationships and making friends. The difference is the intent. As kids, we want someone to play with. As grown-ups, we’re looking for beneficial relationships.
Inviting the newest intern to grab a coffee with you in the break room at your full-time job? Yep, that’s networking.
Joining an industry organization and interacting with their Facebook page? That counts, too.
Talking to one person at a trade show? You guessed it! It all counts. You’re likely already doing it.
Networking is a slight mind shift to make friends purposefully. Approach networking with a helpful attitude while letting your personal and professional goals guide you.
Networking Has Many Benefits
You almost can’t go wrong when establishing relationships in your business and personal life. At the very least, you increase your pool of friends, which is excellent for your overall wellness: self-esteem, social intelligence, mental health, and on and on. A few other benefits include:
Visibility and Credibility
The more you network, the more visibility, and credibility you’ll have. In other words, people know and trust you.
Purposeful relationships allow you to exchange ideas that can help you creatively solve problems and locate resources.
You’ll find people to help with your workload or solve problems faster than if you sat alone at your computer, racking your brain for a solution. You’ll improve your overall productivity.
Sometimes, just a show of solidarity can reinvigorate you, knowing that someone out there has been through what you’re going through. Networking provides you with encouragement from others to keep you going when the going gets tough. It’s nice to know you are not alone!
Getting to know others exposes you to new and better ways of doing things. Various people from different backgrounds and cultures lead to diverse business ideas.
Learn about new trends or issues relevant to your eCommerce side hustle that will make your business rise above the competition.
How to Network When It’s Not Your Thing
Some people know how to work a room and connect with others. For the rest of us, it takes education and practice.
- Start Small: Make a goal of talking to just one person. One single conversation could be all it takes to make a huge difference.
- Find Common Ground: No matter how different you are, you can always find something in common with the person you’re talking to. Ask about their interests. Tell them about the newest helpful gadget you discovered or the life-changing blog post you read.
- “Seek First to Understand, Then Be Understood” is one of the habits from The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, which means we should actively listen as much as we actively talk. We can get so caught up with what we plan on saying next that we accidentally tune out the person speaking. Catch yourself when you do this and force your mind to refocus.
- Make it a Game: The more you practice, the better you’ll be. Make it a fun game for yourself so that you’ll stick to it. How many people can you meet at your next professional networking event? How long can you talk to just one person for a deeper conversation? How can you be a helper to someone? Can you introduce one friend to another?
A Two-way Street
We all need each other because “no man is an island,” and it truly isn’t “what you know but who you know” that can change the world.
Support others as much as (if not more than) they support you. Serve as a mentor or ally. Give a hand up to people going through similar situations you went through on your rise to success. Invite other women to lunch or events.
To sum it up, we’ll leave you with a quote from author, speaker, and salesman Zig Ziglar:
“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”