Networking: what is it + in simple words + rules
In this article, we will talk about what networking is, in simple words and as detailed as possible.
The word networking refers to the interaction and exchange of ideas between people who have a common interest, profession, or other common ground. This interaction takes place in informal social conditions, at specialized events, business lunches, seminars, etc.
The concept is used by employees from all business areas to expand their circle of acquaintances, establish useful connections, find out job opportunities in their field, and raise awareness of news and trends in their field. The word comes from the English net + working – work as part of a single network.
How networking works
To get an effective "network" interaction, you need a point of contact. The most obvious option is professional affiliation, such as designers or Forex traders.
But there are also networks created from graduates of one educational institution, members of an interest club, or even parishioners of one church (common in the USA).
For a business person, successful opportunities to establish business contacts open up at conferences, seminars, exhibitions, where a large number of like-minded people gather.
It is important to know about networking that it is an important way to keep up with the times and develop relationships that open up prospects for work or business. It is also important that with its help the participant himself can be useful to someone, tell the news or help find a job.
So, networking is not a party where you can have a drink with a senior person and get a promotion. It is a serious communication tool that can bring significant benefits. Now consider its capabilities in more detail and comprehensively.
Networking Rules – Collection and Analysis of Information
The essence of the event is communication, but not all visitors see the opportunities that open up before them.
You need to listen carefully, ask the right questions, analyze the information received and remember that there is no useless knowledge: each can be used for your own purposes.
Employees can get a lot of important information from managers – what are the company’s plans, what is going on in the management structures, what are the relationships with other companies, what areas of advertising and marketing are most effective.
Building connections by meeting new people
Understanding what networking is, we can distinguish two of its key purposes, equal in importance and closely related to each other:
- gaining experience or information.
A person with the right skills and knowledge can be an extremely useful source of information. And people are always happy to share this information if they receive information in return.
If you are a beginner, but you do not yet have a lot of knowledge and experience. But the longer you work, the more their number increases. Over time, you will have a lot of information and important ideas to share.
Formation of a pool of necessary contacts
With a person who has both useful knowledge and access to the right people, others, in turn, want to communicate – the entire niche of networking is tied to communication.
You never know which person will help you move up the career ladder in the next moment. This is the most important thing – the right connections, surrounding from all sides, which can take success in work or business to a new level.
For those who know all the “valuable" people in a niche, it is much easier to get new ideas, look for partners in their team, and join forces with other companies.
Business networking is not just soulless chatter, but full-fledged communication with every person. You have probably noticed that sometimes one phone call is more effective than a whole month of communication with some person. A face-to-face meeting is even more significant.
A personal meeting with colleagues and partners, employees of other companies, expands the range of opportunities for improving working conditions, access to closed products and offers.
In addition, if you are looking for partners for your company, it is also better to talk to them personally right away.
Benefits of networking
The most obvious benefit is getting new contacts, meeting prospective clients, attracting partners. Also in the process you will be able to identify opportunities for business expansion, joint ventures with other companies.
So, the key advantages of the interaction method:
- Reputation building. Business lunches and other "networking" events will help you not to forget about yourself and maintain established connections on a regular basis.
- Always in the flow of events. In an ever-changing business environment, it is important to keep up with market conditions and general industry trends. Market knowledge is the key to forming a successful marketing plan. Periodic attendance at various kinds of seminars and communication with people “in the know” will help you not to fall out of the flow of events.
- Solving specific problems. In addition to the potential for expanding the business, it often helps to find a solution to your own business problems or closing needs. For example, if you need a lawyer or an accountant, then networking will help you find the perfect candidate, and if you need finance to launch a project, then an investor.
- We can say about networking that this is an ideal channel for expanding your knowledge using other people’s knowledge and experience. For example, if your company is going to export or import, then you can get useful advice from someone who has already done this. It will be wiser than investing time and money in an idea that may not materialize at all.
- Raising morale and confidence. Successful business people are positive and full of optimism. In the early stages of developing your business, it is important to communicate with such people so that you always have a moral incentive in front of your eyes. In addition, it will help to loosen up if you are not very sociable by nature. Self-confidence will grow, thanks to which it will become easier to establish new friendships.
One way or another, the ultimate goal of networking is to increase business revenue. The result can be either instant (finding a new client) or gradual (learning new business skills).
Business networking and its features
Owners of small, medium and large businesses need to pay attention to developing relationships with people and companies with whom they may do business in the future. This measure helps to establish mutual understanding and trust between people in their own companies.
Successful networking involves regular contact tracing to share valuable information, including information that may not be available outside of the network.
Specialized Internet platforms such as LinkedIn allow users to join groups, interact with other professionals, share useful information and publish their own blogs.
You can also post a resume there, which can be noticed by potential employers, or a vacancy to find employees for your business.
In 2019, using the Internet, it is very easy to demonstrate your knowledge and communicate with like-minded people.
LinkedIn is not the only, although the largest social network for professionals. There are highly specialized networks, for example, only for business women or those that are aimed at organizing offline meetings.
Networking – what is it: Types and rules of networking
There are two main approaches to this concept, on which the rules of networking depend:
- positive. It is focused on benefiting other people – that is, communication in order to give information, help with employment, provide moral support or advice. The variant is used by people who have already achieved something and now want to surround themselves with “weaker” like-minded people, partly in order to raise worthy replacements, partly in the hope that they will also benefit them in the future. This is a far-sighted strategy.
- Negative. Despite the name, this does not mean that this type of networking is negative – it only implies not giving back, but receiving information and help. Starting to communicate with a person, you evaluate how much he is supposed to be useful to you in the future and, depending on this, you build a line of communication or stop it altogether. The resulting connections are purely market in nature, the environment is chosen as strong as possible, which will help to achieve success.
These two approaches need to be combined – there is nothing wrong with trying to capitalize on dating. But it is necessary to try as much as possible and to be useful, people do not forget this. Positive networking should prevail over negative. And then the rules of networking will not become something difficult for you.
The importance of business connections for success
All experts agree – successful people are those who constantly communicate and "invest" in personal and business relationships. Because even one successful acquaintance can be beneficial throughout your career. But what is networking anyway?
Networking allows you to keep abreast of your field, quickly access the necessary resources, potential mentors, clients and partners.
Connections are important for all aspects of business life:
For career development
Career development is a permanent process, reminiscent of evolution. Its success is influenced by a number of factors:
- position originally held;
- in-office and out-of-office experience;
- the success you achieve at every stage of your career;
- formal and informal training and education;
- feedback from people you meet along the way.
Ideally, companies should pay more attention to the development of their employees in the workplace. However, the reality is that we live in the age of "do it yourself".
In today’s work environment, only the employee himself controls how his career develops. Hence the importance of networking for career development: when you connect with people from the same organization, industry or simply with the same interests, you open up opportunities for useful communication with different types of mentors, make yourself more visible to management, improve existing skills and get new ones.
If you think that net work is what you need to do in your free time, then you are deeply mistaken. While communicating with people who work in other companies or even in other fields is important, the importance of networking within your own company cannot be discounted.
It doesn’t matter if you are a newbie or have already started a promotion, communication with colleagues is useful for career growth.
At the same time, be on the lookout for potential mentors who provide unpublished opportunities for growth or change of position.
For job search
Of course, networking is extremely important in the process of finding a job. And, if used correctly, it increases the chances of successful employment by 10 times.
Also, if you’re already employed but want to change activities, you should communicate more with representatives of the area you want to break into.
How to become an effective networker
The importance of networking cannot be overestimated. But how can you improve your communication skills to ensure you are working effectively? There are a number of simple rules:
- Find your personal style. Different people use different tactics. You need to try the appropriate strategies to find out what works best. For example, if you are an introvert, you would probably prefer to chat with the right people one on one over a cup of coffee. Or attending quieter events with fewer participants.
- Erase the boundaries. You don’t have to go to traditional cocktail parties to be a successful networker. Choose only those events and organizations that are important to you. It is based on the desire to meet and communicate with new people whose personal and professional interests are similar to yours. A win-win option is volunteering. You will simultaneously meet significant people and do good deeds.
- Make a plan. It is not always known exactly what to expect from a given event. But their purpose, as a rule, can be quite clearly defined. For example, meeting three new people from the industry or formulating one new idea and sharing it with colleagues.
- Don’t quit halfway. Critical step. The time you’ve wasted talking to someone new won’t do you any good if there’s no follow up. It is not necessary to bombard a friend with VKontakte messages, but you can at least add yourself to LinkedIn with a small friendly message. In the future, try to contact us to either share interesting news or ask for specific help.
Remember the rules of positive networking. Give more than you receive, be useful to those who are in the same "network". Because the more you invest in your relationships, the more people you can help. And get help, of course.
How to behave at events
Try to get a good rest before the event, so as not to be lethargic and sleepy. Also drive away a bad mood – no one wants to communicate with a sad and immersed in their problems person. Don’t drink too much. Alcohol and business conversations are incompatible concepts. And seven more tips on how to behave at networking events:
- To learn something about a person, you need to talk to him. So feel free to come up and chat with everyone.
- When collecting useful information, do not forget about it. It is best to write in a notepad – this is absolutely normal.
- Feel free to ask questions. You have nothing to lose even if you don’t get a response or it doesn’t prove useful to you.
- Don’t miss the opportunity to take a selfie with someone or let them take one with you.
- If you have useful contacts, share them. But if the contact helps a person, then you will automatically become useful too. If not, no one will blame you.
- Keep any business cards or brochures you receive.
- Do not impose on those who are not in the mood to communicate.
And actively share the information you have. Because it is highly valued in any working circles.
Rules for organizing networking events
If you yourself are organizing a meeting for people with common interests, then it will not be superfluous to read a number of useful tips on how to make it effective.
Encourage people to meet and connect. But remember that initially most of them are not familiar with each other. And they may be a little shy or not even think about the possibility of making contacts. You can prepare a short presentation by the speaker, who will talk about the possibilities of the event, making the event more valuable.
It is advisable to equip a specialized area for communication. People will be able to go there in between the strict business program.
- warm up
- to drink coffee
The zone must be marked with art objects, signs or signs. Install soft sofas and ottomans, tables, provide sockets for charging gadgets, paper and pens, notepads.
Another useful thing for networking is called Connecting Wall. This is a stand where any participant can attach his business card or copy the contacts of other participants from there. But the stand can be divided into topics (for investors, for lawyers, etc.).
Remind people often that networking is essential. The best result of your motivational speeches is acquaintance between people who are useful to each other.
Unfortunately, people themselves do not always see opportunities for interaction. Sometimes you need to direct them. Use the TV panels for guidance and helpful networking tips. If pre-registration has taken place, then photos, specializations and contacts of participants can be placed on the screen.
Give people maximum chances to express themselves, create an incoming flow of communication. Create conditions for self-presentation, for example, an “open microphone”, appoint a moderator for speeches. This will contribute to a higher appreciation of the event by the participants.
Finally, don’t forget to continue networking after the event is over.
- Create a group or chat in social networks according to the desire of the participants
- Post a photo report
- Initiate interaction between participants
- Contribute to the continuation of acquaintances.
Thanks to this, some casual acquaintances can develop into strong business ties. While otherwise they might just be forgotten.
Networking in a mutually beneficial form contributes to:
- establishing useful business contacts
- looking for new acquaintances
- fixing the old ones.
In the process, you can get help from more experienced associates. Or render it yourself, raising the level of your reputation. Because all the efforts that will be spent in the process will pay off with interest.
It’s never too late—and never too early—to invest in business relationships. An effective way to improve your communication skills is to try. Even if you consider yourself an introvert, not capable of establishing contacts. At a properly organized networking event, even shackled people feel comfortable. And if you visit them regularly, then over time the problems will completely go away. A positive result in the form of career growth will not keep you waiting.