What is networking anyway? So many job seekers are befuddled by the term. Plain and simple: networking is about relationships! Can we all agree to stop over-thinking it. Based on your relationships with people you gather information, acquire recommendations, find out interesting things, uncover solutions, and the list goes on!
Your Existing Network (aka Friends, Family, neighbors, colleagues, etc)
Let’s keep it simple. You already have a list of people you know. These are your friends, family, neighbors or the people you know well. This is your current network. These people care about you and your well-being. Have you ever asked any of them for the name of a good electrician, or what kind of car they drive or a their favorite restaurant? Why? Because the thought of pulling a name out of directory is risky. You want something reliable at a fair price and you trust the recommendation of someone you know. Right?
What you were doing was looking for information! You were looking for their help!
Your Extended Professional Network
This network is comprised of people you may have only interacted with professionally. They could be vendors, suppliers, customers or even competitors. They could be people you have served on committees with. You do have a relationship with these people. If you called any of them on the phone they would recognize your name! Have you ever asked any one in this set of connections for advice, recommendations, information? If so, you’ve networked!
Who Else Do You Need In Your Network?
Do you need to grow your network? Do you need to meet more people? ALWAYS! So who are the people you want to meet? Create a list of people you would like to meet. They could be movers and shakers in your industry. It could be a person who’s name comes up frequently in conversation. It could be almost anyone. As you write down their name, also write down WHY you want to meet them!
Networking is so mis-understood!
I keep writing about networking because it is so misunderstood by those new to job search. If you consider yourself to be the owner of your own business (Me, Inc!) then maybe you would understand the power and importance of building a more targeted network.
Here are some posts that provide additional information and examples of what networking is.
Will you please include your definition of networking in the comment below!