There’s no doubt that you have heard or experienced the power of networking. Networking can open doors you never knew existed, or keep lines of communication open between people who may offer help in the future.
City Girl Savings helps promote the community as an opportunity for like-minded women to network, even if it’s online. You never know what the future may hold; the person you add as a friend now may be the link between you and your next job! The CGS Team answers the where, what, why, when, and how of networking!
What is networking?
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, networking is “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” More simply stated, networking allows you to meet people for the potential of help, service exchange and more.
Networking is more than adding friends to your social media and collecting business cards, it’s about getting to know other individuals, specifically ones that are associated with the current career you are in (or want to be in).
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. Well, that’s convincing! Considering that your next job may be one networking event away, getting out and meeting people can be rewarding in other ways as well. Finding a mentor, getting cheap (or free) professional advice, opening the door for personal or professional opportunities, and making great friends are some of the most prominent benefits of networking.
How to Network?
Some people are naturally outgoing. They can walk into a packed party alone and mingle with the crowd. Others are shy and may not have the comfort level to initiate conversations. Regardless of your personality, networking can be accomplished by anyone! It may be easier for some, but it is possible for all. If you are attending an event designed to help link individuals together, go in with an open mind.
Be willing to mingle and socialize. It may help to go to the event by yourself, so that you aren’t tempted to stay with the company you came with. If formal introductions are made, listen to what people have to say. Keep an ear out for anything that you have in common with the person or would like to know more about. This makes for an easy icebreaker when there is an opportunity to speak with them.
If you are out doing your daily routine or activities and spot someone you recognize or have wanted to meet, politely approach them and offer a compliment. Keep in mind that the person may be in a hurry, so after the initial introduction, request a business card so you may reach out to them. If you have your own business card handy, give them one!
Once you have opened the door for conversation, you can reach out to the person through phone or email, depending on your comfort level. Still not convinced that you have what it takes to network because of your shyness? Inc. Magazine has some great networking tips for shy people. Check out their article “7 Networking Tips for Introverts, Extroverts, and the Socially Awkward”.
Where to Network?
The beauty of networking is that in can be done just about anywhere! When approaching people out and about, the timing may not always be the best, but the opportunity is there. Networking events and social mixers are also great places to network. The people attending these events are going with the intention of meeting new people, so it makes the process that much smoother.
Professional companies and organizations, businesses, and volunteer groups often hold events for members, the public, or both. Try doing a search for organizations in your area. The National Association of Professional Women is a great place to start for career-orientated people. Conferences and workshops are also great places to network and learn.
When to Network?
Unless you see the person you want to speak with is on the phone, busy or in a hurry, networking can be done anytime. As you go about your day at work, school, or other routines, make conversation with people you normally wouldn’t. Get comfortable speaking to people at random. You never know who you are talking to and if your paths will cross in the future. Also, remember to be open and receptive to others. Keep your head up, a smile on your face, and be willing to converse.
Networking can bring great opportunities for growth, advancement and knowledge! Take advantage of it whenever you have the chance. Do you have any positive experiences with networking? Are you a member of groups or affiliations that host networking events? Share your thoughts and experiences with the community so that we can learn what works!