I am an introvert person and naturally reaching out to people to talk is not an easy task for me. As I started working professionally I realized that if I want to climb the career ladder I need to be able to connect with others. Naturally as I started to talk to communicate I began to create the bridge and build a network of professionals.
I never considered networking as an important factor until recently after attending a leadership program last year. The second module of the training discussed the importance of networking. Before I attended the training I always incorrectly believed that networking is only for extroverts who excel in talking with all types of people. However, I was very surprised to hear that 80% of the attendees of the program proclaimed that they are introverts.
The question is why is networking important in the career world? The answer is a lot. For one, most of us do not work in silo; in most cases we are required to work with others in order to complete a task. Most important projects require a team and within a team there would be a group of people with different expertise to work on the project. Imagine building a rocket with a team consists of engineers, technicians and scientists, astrologists, etc.
We network all the time it just that we don’t realize. For example when we pick up the phone to call someone from another department to discuss an issue we are actually opening a channel to network. Or the meeting that we attended with the suppliers on how to implement a new system – that is also part of networking. We communicate with other parties to get things done and to achieve the ultimate outcome.
How do you create the network? The most important aspect is create a positive impression throughout the entire exchange. Creating frictions on the other hand will have an opposite effect. In addition to building good impression we need to reinforce the network by continue to have constant exchange. If for some reason that you lost the connection over the years, a simple catch up will instantly rebuild the network.
One of the mindset that we need to change about networking is it is not about needing something in return. We should not use our networks because we are looking for a job. It creates a wall of dishonesty and may have a negative effect on the relationship. For the past year I change my approach and reaching out to the past connections to catch up. Instead of asking for something in return I do a wellness check.
It is important to note that not all networking will result in positive return. We should treat networking as a long term investment. As you invest more time and effort in this activity, like all investments will create a positive return whether through better career advancement or getting things done.