In the age of social media and the internet, there is no dearth of information for anyone who seeks it. The Shopping Festival Sale organizations by ecommerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart allows users to choose from a plethora of products. Decisions are taken within minutes and packages delivered with days. The question to bear in mind is, how do we make such split second decisions? While decisions regarding products of lower monetary value may be taken independently, some big ticket item purchase more or less has one important element apart from all the information available on the web, and that is a “Friend” or someone who maybe with your circle and is regarded an an expert in the field or who may have the required wherewithal to inspire you to take an accurate decision.
The so called friends, acquaintances, colleagues, subject matter experts are more of less within your locus of control – which is to say, they are either sitting on your speed-dial, your contacts list, Facebook friend List, LinkedIn etc. The point is, they are readily accessible and trust-worthy to help you take a decision or validate your decision or choice. They may not necessarily be your friends but when it comes to seeking help, they can be relied upon. This is a very simplistic outline of your “Network” and the larger and more diverse it is, the advantages that accrue out of it could have endless possibilities. Lets look at this concept a little more closely.
NETWORKING IS AN ONGOING PROCESS
Networking is a perennially trending concept across media and while there is a method to succeed through networking and reap dividends, it can be bothersome and frustrating if not executed in the right manner. People and professional have a limited and a myopic view of the concept and the need to mine their network generally comes at the forefront during times of need or distress. eg when someone is looking for a role, a contract, lead etc. Networking is hence an ongoing – continuous process and the more time invested, the chances of meeting your objectives improve manifold.
NETWORKING IS ABOUT GIVING FIRST
Networking is about giving first and receiving later. This is probably one of the most easily missed facet of networking. Since people are not in the habit of networking as a continuous process, they find themselves asking for help and support without have made any contribution to that relationship, Yes networking is all about building mutual respect and trust else the relationship becomes opportunistic and one sided. Having such a set-up of adhoc requests and favours results in unfavorable perception and tends towards being opportunistic rather than symbiotic
NETWORKING MEANS BEING AUTHENTIC
Some forward looking organizations have initiated efforts of being “Authentic” built on the pillars of trust, transparency and consistency and the same would hold true for networking. If based on the three tenets mentioned, networking then becomes easy and fluid. Bringing ones authentic self to the notice of people builds trust and that is the foundation stone for effective networking.
The negativity associated with misrepresentation or being not -authentic can lead to a downgrade in perception which can easily spread across your network. This is also a pattern that has has garnered traction with the growth of social media platforms like LinkedIn where people tend to over-inflate their stories
NETWORKING IS ABOUT COMMON INTERESTS
If one was to open their LinkedIn account and look into the profiles of people within the digital network, there is one trend that becomes apparent – Homogeneity of profiles. What this means in simple words is that if you are into sales or business development, chances are high that most of the people in your network would be in similar roles or domains. This is a clear cut validation that effective networking is with people with similar interests and if one has to start off in this journey, its worth while to connect meaningfully with the present set of connects. This however does not mean that one cannot connect with people outside your work-domain. This is very much possible as long as there is a strong degree of commonality of vision, purpose or interest that allows one to add value
NETWORKING IS ABOUT NEVER GIVING UP
This is the part where the concept of networking and that of entrepreneurship combine to build a formidable go-to-market plan. While social network platforms like LinkedIn have made it easier to connect with people, there may be situations where the person one intends to connect may not be responsive at all. That is the time when the spirit of entrepreneurship kicks in and a calculated relentless pursuit of forging a connection is exactly what is needed. Engaging with articles, comments, likes, sharing of views or even seeking an introduction through a common connection can work out.
NETWORKING IS ABOUT STORY TELLING
This is probably one aspect that people are willing to overlook while they are busy with networking. The concept of story telling has captured our imaginations since a long time. The best of movies and books tell the best stories and ultimately become classics. In the same way the best companies tell the best articulated stories to their consumers and make them fans forever.
The human brain is wired to retain stories for longer durations than facts and statistics which are retained for a fraction of the time. Why is it then one hesitates to script ones own story. The intent here is not to make a story for networking alone, but to make a story about ones ambitions, purpose and life so that one is able to present the true purpose to others straight from within
NETWORKING IS ABOUT HAVING THE CONSTITUTION TO WALK AWAY
There are a few times that the connect we seek to make may not be able to reciprocate or may not communicate all all. This happens for a number of reasons and if there is clarity that one has expended all the efforts without any result, its time to shift towards other similar individuals.
Networking sometimes can be seen from the lens of landing a job. You may have a certain company in mind where you seem to be a good fit but there could be no reply to your application or you may not get through. While dejection is what seems to hit us at first, one does not stop at the first failure. The efforts are always on till one secures a role that is probably better than the one that was lost. Networking opens doors to such infinite possibilities which can be mined through concentrated efforts and the right mind-set.