Strategic Networking: Your Career Advancement Edge
We all know that networking is the key to professional success -the most powerful competency you can use to advance your career. But if you are like many professional women, the term “Networking” creates feelings of fear and dread as you worry about what to do at your next networking event.
Let’s start with a simple but relevant definition of networking:
“A mutual exchange of ideas and information where each contact has the opportunity to give as well as receive insights and information in a way that builds relationships”.
Yes, networking is all about getting to know people and learning about them; it’s about teaching, giving and building relationships, things women are really good at!
So the next time you are planning to attend a networking event, approach it in terms of sharing, learning and giving – and having fun! In addition try these three “insider” tips to make the most of your event:
- Contact the meeting organizer ahead of time; let her know your goals for the event and ask her who you should meet, and if she can introduce you
- Introduce yourself to the speaker(s)/panelists and thank them for sharing their expertise with the audience. They are likely donating their time and will really appreciate you acknowledging that – and you will stand out from the rest of the attendees
- Make yourself useful. Offer to help the event organizer with checking people in, distributing info, etc. You will meet more people, appear approachable and calm those nerves and sweaty palms
If you are not attending an event, you can still build your networking skills by looking for opportunities to integrate networking into your daily activities – at a company meeting, your kid’s athletic games, events you attend at your church or in your community. Be curious about and interested in the people you meet – wherever you are – and you will make valuable connections and build your network.
I am not saying that you will become a “master networker” overnight, but with a thoughtful approach, a little practice and the willingness to share information – it will become easier and more enjoyable. I promise!