Networking. An important term we hear quite often being thrown around the office. But what does it really mean and what is the real benefit behind it? Let’s take a look.
We all have friends right? Childhood friends, college friends, neighbors, and of course work friends. They are the people we turn to when we have a funny story to tell, need advice, a shoulder to lean on, or to just get out and have some fun with. It’s so uplifting to hear “Let’s grab some lunch and talk!” It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling when you spend time with a good friend, right? Whether it’s to celebrate something, unwind, complain about how hard life is, or simply just to catch up… it brings a little peace to your everyday life knowing that your friend is there to share that time with you. Your friendship is usually mutually beneficial, with each of you giving just as much as you receive. A win-win relationship, if you will.
At some point in your life, you made a connection with that person. Connection? Another buzz-word we hear around here. Let’s put it all together…
Personally I like to separate my work life from my everyday life, but let’s for one second compare the two. If we strive to build relationships in our professional circle, the same way we connect with our friends, imagine the benefits. Let’s start with a scenario. You’ve attended a networking event and have connected with a like-minded individual. He/she has the same work ethic as you, shares a similar client base, holds the same position in another company, or maybe your personalities are just a great match. You exchange contact information and plan to meet again. You become friends over a few emails, social media profiles, and possibly a casual meet-up here and there. You’ve made a connection. Repeat the process and make as many of these as you can. How can this help you in your career? Here’s a few ideas:
Who is the first person you turn to for advice in most cases? A friend! Sometimes you can’t just Google it. Things come up in your daily goings on that you might need a second opinion on. A difficult client, an article topic, how to deal with a colleague, etc… Who better to ask than someone who’s been in a similar situation? Rely on your network to help you out and be ready to give the same assistance in return. The bigger your circle, the more knowledge there is available to you.
Whose opinion matters most when being introduced to someone? Your friends! Everyone knows someone, who knows someone else, and so on and so forth. Your aunt’s friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s dog-walker might be the perfect client for a friend in your network. In the same respect, a friend in your network may have client who’s next door neighbor is looking for your services. You do the math. The bigger your circle, the more potential leads become accessible to you through a simple introduction.
Who do you call when you just need a good old fashioned venting session? Your friends! No one said having a career would be easy. We all have our good days and bad days. When you have those bad days, wouldn’t it be great to reach out to someone who actually gets it? Because guess what? They have bad days too. (GASP!) Being able to talk about a situation that bothered you just helps sometimes. Having someone who can relate to you or your situation is invaluable, both in a psychological and emotional sense. The bigger your circle, the more shoulders you have to lean on for a pick-me-up.
Bottom line: People need people. It’s what makes the world go ‘round. If you have yet to step out of your comfort zone and build some relationships in your professional world, I suggest you give it a try. In your business, you can build relationships and trust with a user-friendly and quality website design. Demonstrating practices of successful people is a proven way to enhance your own performance. What better way to do so than to surround yourself with these people? Now get out there and make some friends!