Networking is not just a buzzword for landing your next job, it is an art form that opens the door to lifelong opportunities. A majority of people tend to believe the age old cliché of “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. While that may have been true in the past, when it comes to effective networking in the 21st century, it’s not only about “who you know”, but more importantly “who knows you”.
Building an effective network requires a significant investment of time and energy. Many people find it difficult and intimidating. However, throughout my career, I’ve found success in several areas by applying three fundamental principles of networking:
1. Know the Purpose. Networking is about building relationships. Your network is comprised of people with whom you have formed a relationship based upon a mutual interest and provide support to further your endeavors.
2. Know Yourself. Be clear about your personal value and what you have to offer to the relationship. Take time to understand your strengths as well as your areas of development. You should also be honest about your needs and specific in what you ask.
3. Know the Environment. All networking events, whether virtual or live, have their own character. Develop and practice the style that best suits you and that situation. Remember, there is no one size fit all approach to network.
Simply reading these principles will not magically make you a better networker. Networking may be an art, but it still requires you to practice the skills. You must apply these principles on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Only then, will you be able to build an effective network.