Be a Connector to Build Your Career
Being successful at anything, but especially in a career, does not involve a total focus on self. First, none of us can do anything without help from other people. If people aren’t aware you exist, how can they be of help to you in your career? Better yet, a good question is, if you go around connecting other people, what’s the benefit for you?
The Good Face of Networking
Creating the foundation for being a connector is to network. To be a connector requires networking, because without networking how can you meet the people you need to connect? Networking has many good benefits.
- Meet New People – This may be a given. However, consistently networking enables you to meet far more people and help many more others to connect than no networking or just giving it lip service.
- Improves Self-Confidence – To network consistently, you will need to step outside your comfort zone. This is always a confidence builder.
- Raise Your Own Visibility – The saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” still applies and now because of social media, we say, “It’s not what you know but who knows you.”
- Gain New Perspectives – Everyone brings something to the table. Everyone has an opinion. You will be able to connect dots, put pieces of information together and be more innovative.
- Obtain Career Advice and Support – People who have tread the path you want to walk on, or blazed the trail so you can walk on it are the type of people who can provide you with sage advice and maybe even put in a good word for you.
The Not So Good Face of Networking
So why don’t we network more or at least to the extent that we should? The header on this section is a dead giveaway. Networking has developed a negative reputation. These formal networking events can seem staged and fake, they are stressful, approaching total strangers is intimidating, oftentimes there are so many sleezy people at them, that you feel like you need to take a shower when you get home. While this may be true in some instances, you can carry a different attitude and be there to try and develop some genuine relationships. Here are a few other ideas.
Networking doesn’t always have to involve the drinks after work venue with the cheap hors d’oeuvres. The first place to begin networking, especially for safeguarding and building your career, is at work. Begin with getting out of your chair, walking around, and introducing yourself to people. Ask questions about their jobs, what they do, let them talk, and actively listen to them. Active listening is necessary to both build the relationship and discover the person or people they might want to meet.
To help jog your memory of people at work with a connection to you already, draw a diagram with a circle in the center. The circle represents you. Now begin drawing lines from that circle to immediate connections, then those further away from you. You can include people who have connections to the people you want to meet or later to those people whom you want to connect.
Other venues to network include seminars, classes, community meetings, and social gatherings. Even training sessions in your own company can put you in the paths of people you want to meet or connect to someone else. Volunteering for committee work or community events are also clever ideas and you get to meet people in a more relaxed environment which often helps to stimulate more interesting and even deeper conversations.
Being a connector is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. In other words, for the most benefit to you, others, and your career, make a commitment to stick with it. In addition, like anything else, it does take effort as you need to follow-up with people and maintain the relationship. More importantly you are the one who must ensure that you bring value to other people in all your networking efforts. This means that you are not just meeting and connecting people willy-nilly, but ensuring the people around you, may be small in number, but must be high in quality.
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