Networking is defined as ‘interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts’, by Oxford Dictionaries. No matter in which profession you are in, whether you work at all or not, if you’re into your own business, are a blogger working from home, a student, job seeker, someone looking for friends, interested in dating, looking for like-minded people with hobbies and similar interests as yours, and so much more, you can very much benefit from networking!
Personal social life
Let’s start from home… We normally wouldn’t say that we ‘network’ with our family members, right? However, we need daily communication to keep a strong bond in the family. That’s why the whole family needs to get together (at least) at dinner time, sharing with each other how the day was, on a daily basis. Parents keep an eye on their children’s activities, so that they don’t go astray.
As for a social life, we could be meeting up with friends on weekends, going to the bar, to the cinema, taking overseas vacations, and so much more. Social networking platforms such as Facebook, help to keep in touch with family and friends, all around the world. Badoo is a very popular online dating site, amongst others.
As human beings, no matter what our personality type, we all crave for social interaction, although the intensity and need to socialize may vary from person to person. Don’t you count on finding help from, and providing assistance to, your family and close circle of friends?
As students we lead a life where we’re likely to study and also party a lot, at the same time. Friends have a very strong influence, so peer pressure may be an issue. As teenagers, we tend to feel that adults don’t understand us and often turn to friends for ideas and advice.
On the other hand, strong relationships with our peers could be very helpful later on in life, such as for developing professional partnerships or exchanging referrals for business contacts. Alumni networking could help in finding you contacts, as well as meeting up with former classmates. LinkedIn is a very popular platform for business and employment-oriented services.
Physical events give the chance for face-to-face interactions and you are likely to feel more ‘connected’ to the other person. Online networking is also very useful, as it’s time-saving and inexpensive. However, at some point of time, you are likely to meet in person, or at least have a face-to-face call (eg. through Skype), to minimize misunderstandings and build more trust and rapport.
Relationships in the corporate world aren’t really ‘Business to Business’ or ‘Business to Customer’, but rather ‘Human to Human’. The need for personalisation when using automated tools, is ever so crucial for genuine communication with your clients!
Presentation and body language
The way you dress up, your personal grooming, body language, mannerism, voice tone, eye contact, pauses, and more, are all important, as people make impressions of each other (the initial impression is often crucial).
These factors often contribute to our success in finding new acquaintances, getting selected at a job interview, securing a business contract, dating and more. This is a huge topic in itself, which I could take up later on, in a separate blog post.
The image below shows how I make eye contact in the first photo, and how I look away in the second one. Proper eye contact should be warm, natural, genuine and sincere.
Networking requires that you get out of your comfort zone. Even if you’re of the most extrovert type, you’re likely to feel uncomfortable in public, at certain times. Sharpening your networking skills and putting them into practice, help to do things that you otherwise would hesitate to.
Join clubs such as Lions Clubs International, Rotary International, and many more. To improve your public speaking skills, find your nearest Toastmasters International club. Join a Non-Governmental Organization to volunteer and serve for a cause, that you strongly feel about.
Get together with people of similar interests and hobbies. Join a gym, your local football club, hiking club, cookery, dancing, drama or photography classes,… anything that makes you happy! In the process, you’ll find friends and discover more about yourself!
If you’re not already networking, then maybe you should do so now. If you already are, then would you like to share your ideas? Thank you!