Networking refers to the ability of exchanging ideas and information with groups as well as individuals that have shared interests, such that long-term relationships are developed for mutual benefit.
In simple words, networking skills are the ability to make contacts through a process that is two-way. Simply filling out your address book with the names and numbers of some influential people is not enough.
It is more of a habit that needs to be developed within as well as outside work environment because whether it’s your search for employment, or wish to successfully grow in your career; networking skills serve as the catalyst.
Why is networking important
An overwhelming majority of successful people, when asked, say they owe their success to their networking skills. Following are some of the benefits that may help illustrate why networking is important:
- It makes you prominent. In a world where we are faced with continuous bombardment of advertisements, emails, and several kinds of sales pitches, messages are usually a clutter. Networking helps you form personal relationships due to which you are able to rise above all that noise and make yourself or your organization stand out.
- Addition to your knowledge base. Your networking abilities provide you with a great opportunity to share ideas and information. It is possible for you to meet and learn from the experience of people who have been in life where you currently are. As a result, through networking you learn to see things from different perspectives.
- It provides opportunities. Whenever an employer is confused between hiring one of the two people that are equally qualified, he will go for the one he likes and trusts more. Hence, it is clear how networking can give rise to opportunities such as referrals, partnerships, and sales etc.
How to improve networking skills
Knowing that networking is the fuel that accelerates success, you can improve your networking skills in the following way:
- Interact face-to-face. With the increasing use of internet and social media, many deem it appropriate to use these as a good way to keep in touch. The reality, however, is that you need to get off that computer of yours and make real time, face-to-face interactions.
- Keep in mind your destination. Focusing on the bigger picture is important but what is even more important is setting smaller and attainable goals which feed the larger, overarching goals but help you measure success while you are on your way to it. You must set goals that are directly related to your networking efforts. For example, aiming to get 3 business cards at a particular industry event can be a networking goal.
- Work on your mindset. Forget the purpose of developing the relationships while you’re networking. Don’t treat anyone like a business contact. Rather, treat them as your friends and this will make things go a lot smoother during your interactions, without you being distracted by the thoughts of end results that you wish to achieve.