Merriam Webster’s online dictionary defines networking as:
“The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business”(http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/networking, 11/01/2014)
I am of the opinion that networking just for the purpose of job hunting does not make the the most use of one’s network; exchanging information and services yield much better results. Until recently, I was quite uncomfortable with the idea of calling up friends and acquaintances, and asking for jobs; I thought it a bit…cold. The thing is, I am a big believer in treating others as I would like to be treated, and I find it shocking when people who haven’t called me in ages hound me to link them up with people I know. No one likes being used baldly.
To get most benefits out of networking, look beyond short-term benefits, and what you can get out of it. Believe me, people know, when you are out to take advantage of them (calling that acquaintance you haven’t called in 1 year to ask for a job because he’s recently been given a juicy top post may not work, chances are s/he’ll take care of those who have bothered to build relationships with him first). Sometimes, it can be advantageous to employ one’s skills and network for the benefit of others – building relationships for networking. I am currently working for a friend (whom I met through work) who recently started a business for free. I hope that my assistance will mean that he can take on more clients, and it will build my proficiency with various accounting and ERP software – the benefits of building relationships does not necessarily have to be financial.
There is the common belief among my Nigerian brethren, that to get a job, one needs to know influential people. Be that as it may, I find that lots of people spend time complaining about their lack of influential contacts than making the most of the contacts and opportunities they have. I recently asked an elderly acquaintance who recommended me for a job what his criteria was for recommending people for jobs, and he said competence. He said it enhances his own network when he recommends persons who can actually do the job. Knowing influential people, may get you an interview, or even a job, but skill/competence keeps it. For me, networking is useful for building skills – working for free for my friend has greatly increased my proficiency in various accounting and ERP software, and I am certain this increases my attractiveness in the job market, should anyone else in my network recommend me for a job.
2014 is a new year, time to start networking properly, and here are my tips :
- Don’t just call people when you need them, work on building relationships. You don’t need to be best friends with everyone in your network to build a relationship with them
- For me, networking isn’t always directly about a job/earning money. Do favors, learn skills from people in your network. From experience, people appreciate those who take time out to learn skills/assist others for no direct or immediate benefit to themselves; also, this will greatly improve your skills for the job market.
- Promote others – networking should bring mutual benefit.
- Read this article on Zeeshan’s blog, it is an introduction to networking, and gives an insight on how to build your network.
Do you have any other tips for networking? Please comment and share.
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