Back to Basics: Networking
According to the knowledgable, anonymous editors at Wikipedia, business networking can be defined as a socioeconomic activity by which like-minded groups of business people recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. At first glance business, or professional networking, can seem like a daunting task however at a time when most jobs and new clients are found through networking demystifying what it really is is essential to your professional growth and success.
Professional networking, or building a professional network, is not unlike making new friends on the first day of school, you have to decide which people will make great lab partners, which people will be great to study with, and which people have the inside scoop on the latest industry gossip. You also have to figure out which upper-classmen you need in your corner to show you the ropes and keep the bullies at bay. Just like in high school, being authentic and honest about your intentions will carry you a long way when you make your initial contact with potential member or your network whether you are seeking new clients or a new job. Once you tell someone what you want from them or what are offering to them and come from a genuine place, most people will be open to helping you achieve your goals. However, since you aren’t in high school anymore, remember to steer clear of gossips, negative people, and peers who may feel threatened and decide to throw a wrench in your plans. While people ready to dish up the latest news on whose being hired, fired, and acquired can be a great help when it comes to keeping an eye out, people too eager to dish dirt should be kept at arms length much like the mean girls you avoided in school.
Since most of us have been making friends and using our connections to gain everything from the best spot in line for lunch to a new job from the moment we stepped out the front door, networking should be second nature. Its the doing it effectively part that needs work.