Networking is one of the unwritten rules and requirements of many jobs. People in almost any career, from marketing to medicine, benefit from some old-fashioned networking.
Essentially, networking is a way to meet more people and expose your company, profession or business to them. At the end of the day, the more connections you have with people, the more opportunities will be open to you in the future.
That being said, make sure you’re genuine and sincere in your networking efforts. If you’re trying to strike up a conversation with someone simply because they’re a Fortune 500 CEO – or you’ve heard that they’re friends with Bill Gates – stop right there.
Most people, especially those who are successful in what they do, can quickly pick up on insincere intentions or forced conversations.
More importantly, having a powerful or well-known connection, though helpful at times, is virtually pointless if you have nothing in common with them.
If you want to make a good impression and form lasting connections, get to know people that you genuinely share interests with, in terms of business or otherwise. It’s perfectly acceptable if all you gain from a networking event is a couple of new friends.
The point is, you get out there, you meet new, like-minded people, and you expose yourself and your career or business to them.
Getting practice doing this in a room full of strangers will help you significantly when you end up meeting someone that is a helpful career connection or acquaintance for you. You’ll be surprised at how many potential opportunities you may find to form connections and work with similar people.
Someone else’s strengths may be your weaknesses, or vice versa, and someone may love your new business idea and know of people who might want to sponsor it. At the very least, you’ll receive some career advice and a contact for future reference.
If you work in marketing, or you own a business, then networking is another way for you to practice career skills. Networking is marketing. When you network, you’re basically marketing yourself and/or your business and ideas, while hearing other people do the same.
The practice of marketing your business or yourself can help you practice for job interviews and resume writing, as well as marketing your product or business through other channels and platforms.
If networking is new to you, or you feel intimidated by it, don’t worry! Many people feel this way at first.
Start by going with a coworker to an event or two and talk to a couple of people together before you branch out on your own.
Networking doesn’t have to be much different than any other social event. Just make sure the conversation involves work more than your social life or other things until you get to know people more!