For those who consider themselves to be a professional, at some point I’m sure we’ve heard that in order to be successful we need to network and get some connections that will help boost our career. Okay so in today’s world that typically means two things, either start going to events with people in our industry or join Linkedin.
Let’s start with the first option. We decide to attend an event and start conversations with people in the room that we usually don’t know much or anything about. During these conversations, we talk about our work related achievements, how we could possibly help one another and exchange business cards. After the event, we leave with some business cards which seems like a good start. Here’s the rub, most of us don’t follow up by calling the people we talked to and let’s say we do, most likely the other person vaguely remembers us because they met so many people at the event. Generally speaking, most people aren’t willing to help strangers by giving them access to their connections.
Another option is using social media platforms like Linkedin which has proven to be valuable because we’re networking with people in our career field that we already know, who in turn can help us gain access to their connections. For people that are well established in their career this works out pretty well but for those just starting in their careers like recent college graduates, their networks are small and don’t usually generate the connections they need.
What is effective networking? When both parties agree whether it’s in person or online, it would be beneficial to help each other by giving their connections. So instead of joining the traditional networking groups or platforms, there’s a different approach that produces mutual participation.
I joined a networking group called I Know Somebody based in Houston, TX with the purpose of helping their members find the connections they need to get a job, find a reputable service, a mentor, etc. There are people in the group from various professional backgrounds. The premise is if you willingly help others get connections they need in return they will help you.
I recently went to an event and was very impressed with the format of the meeting. There was a speaker that gave relevant information about enhancing your career, then the members individually stood up and gave a brief professional bio and if they had a particular need. When the meeting was over, instead of networking with everyone in the room, I knew the specific people I needed to talk to for my exact need and the assurance that they would be more interested in assisting me. If you don’t have a group similar to this in your area, I highly recommend you pitch this idea to some upwardly bound professionals you know and organize one. This model has proven to be very advantageous to meet the needs of the members that participate.