Networking Essentials for Managers (Part I) (From my good friend Cheri Baker over at The Enlightened Manager)
This article was posted on my good friend, Cheri Baker’s “The Enlightened Manager” blog and I think it’s worth a really thorough read. RLW
A post on networking may seem a little out of place in a blog devoted to leadership development. You may ask “If I’m doing a good job, why should networking matter?” Two years ago, I would have agreed with you. However networking is a skill which – if honed – can increase the quality of your relationships and improve the movement of your career.
When I started my consulting practice I didn’t have much of a professional network. Sure, I had internal customers who loved me, but when it came to expanding my circle of contacts beyond my workplace, I simply didn’t have the time – or so I thought. In retrospect, I wish I had made the time. I’m going to recommend that you take the time as well. Your ability to connect with others on a personal level and to build relationships outside your immediate circle is linked to your ability to advance in your career, find good promotional and job opportunities, and get excellent advice. To use a cliche – it really is all about who you know.
I came to networking with trepidation. Much of my apprehension was because of the myths I had accumulated about what it meant to network.
Myth: Good networking is about meeting people you don’t know, and begging them to help you without looking like you’re asking them for anything.
Truth: Good networking is about meeting people whom you can help. Networking works best in a kind of “pay it forward” scenario. Not “I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine” but instead “let’s all participate in selfless back scratching, and eventually everyone gets scratched.”
Myth: Networking is about making an elevator speech and telling someone why you are awesome.
Truth: Networking is about the enjoyment of meeting new people, and finding out what interests and/or contacts you have in common. The elevator speech is just one tool – and not even a particularly great one.
Myth: It’s good to collect a bunch of business cards.
Truth: It’s good to make one or two solid contacts at a time, and to nurture those contacts into long term professional friendships.
Myth: Because networking is all about serving my goals – I’m being exploitive and I should be ashamed.
Truth: Because networking is about creating win-win relationships and serving others, I should feel good about participating, and it can be fun!
Networking often happens in a set of phases:
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