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Demystifying the Rules of Networking

Demystifying the Rules of Networking

By Denise Kersten,

4. Networking is not a one-way street.

Focusing on what you can get out of your colleagues is the fastest way to sabotage your networking initiative.

Instead, try to build an alliance — the business version of a friendship — based on shared interests. Consider not just your needs, but your colleagues’ as well. Do you have any leads or contacts that would interest them?

You may also need to take a friendly stance with people you’d normally think of as ‘the enemy.’ Though professional organizations are by far the most effective source of networking contacts, people often view the other members as competition for jobs, rather than allies.

“Your next job is going to come from a competitor,” Baber says. “So get to know them and collaborate, don’t compete.”

5. Networking requires patience. Start now.

Lewis and Mink were wise to begin networking well in advance of when they would need new jobs; their efforts took several months to yield offers.

Forming alliances is easier when you’re not actively looking for a job. If you don’t have an immediate need, focus on building mutually-beneficial relationships that will pay off down the pike.

Many people aren’t aware of current openings at their company. But if you network successfully, they’ll let you know when they learn of one and they may even do some extra digging for you. That way, you’ll hear about the position before it hits the classified ads and you’ll have an internal contact for advice and referrals.

Think of building your web of contacts as knitting a safety net. It’s a time-intensive process that requires lots of maintenance. It can quickly save you if you fall, but if you’re already out of work you’ve waited too long to start knitting.

Mink’s firm was hit by the economic downturn and he’s now out of work. But he has a strong network to fall back on — he’s miles ahead of job seekers who haven’t laid their groundwork.

If you do need a job right away and haven’t launched a networking campaign, don’t give up. Everyone has a built-in network of friends, family members, former co-workers and professors — even neighbors.

Begin working connections with people who are most invested in your success. It may take you longer than those who’ve been grooming their network for years, but it’s never to late to start.

Related Reads:
Do-It-Yourself Career Development
Earning Your Rightful Place at the Top
Are You Emotionally Intelligent?
Dying to Get Ahead? 10 Tips for Reinventing Yourself

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