The art of networking – Escalator of success
Be it any profession, networking is quintessential. If you are a doctor, an engineer, a teacher, a businessman, a shopkeeper, a blogger or a recruiter, you need to have that thing for networking. Even a housewife needs to be a networker too. She also needs to build a network with other housewives, park mates, hobby mates, vegetable vendor, grocery man, milk man etc. So networking is an ingredient without which the recipe of life becomes tasteless. I want to talk about networking today. Here we are not talking about web networking sort of thing, we are talking about people networking.
For me networking is an art. Either you are a born networker or you are not. If you are a born networker, things are easier for you. I know so many people who can be described as born networker. They might not be potentially successful but they are always surrounded by influential and successful people. Networking can actually make you come close to those people who are going to be your partners on the elevator of success; I consider ladder of success is outdated. Gone are the times when people used to talk about the ladder of success. That ladder was very fragile. Only one man could get on it at a time. The steps were so brittle and weak, that they were not able to manage the extra burden of responsibilities. The person climbing that ladder of success either falls down or reaches on the top too late. This is the era of Elevators. The Era of rapid fire success. I do agree that there is no short cut to success but I really don’t mind to get on a high speed vehicle to cover the long distance in lesser time. Nobody ever said that we need to walk only. I prefer elevators of success over ladder of success. These are well equipped, well installed. They have all the measures to avoid injuries and accidents. They are superior and of course comfortable and easy. As on a ladder of success only one man can climb at a time he might stay alone on the top or when he drops at the bottom. What if he needs an extra support while getting a little imbalanced while going up? There is nobody around. He may fall down. But on the other hand, on elevator of success, many people can go up at the same time and they all stay close to each other. Even if you fall, the other person is there to help you. On this elevator of success you take people along with you. You all reach on the top one by one and sometimes together. It reduces the effort and enhances the efficiency. This is what we do with networking.
When we talk about born networkers, we talk about outspoken, easy going and friendly people. How many friends did you have in your school will indicate if you are a born networker or not. I had three friends out of which only one is still in touch with me. I am not a born networker. I know my friends who are still in touch with their school friends and they were plenty. Born networkers are networkers’ every time. I mean they never leave their trait of networking behind them. They will try to use their networking skills even when they are travelling in an aeroplane, standing on a railway station, watching a movie or even using a loo. They don’t mind talking to people at any time. Nothing pulls them back unless the other person is not keen to interact. Distances are not a hurdle for born networkers. They don’t mind making long distance calls or chatting online. The distance of their known ones can never be an obstacle to keep them away from that person. They’ll be connected always. Born networkers have a very good memory. They never forget names. They meet a person at one time and feed his/her name in their inbuilt memory card and never forget it. They never forget faces. If they have seen or met a person once, they can recall it again after a long time. Born networkers never mind poking in your personal lives. This is again a characteristic of born networkers which can positive and negative both, at the same time. Positive because getting to know about the personal life of other person might make your relationship stronger than before. Negative because that person might feel offensive about it. Born networkers are usually talkative. They are chatter drums. They can talk and talk for long on any topic. They have so many people in their wide spread network. All are with different interests, tastes and likes. So they need to know about each and every aspect of vital topics to be discussed, never know which topic may serve at which connection. So, born networkers are usually knowledgeable and curious people.
As born networkers are having the advantage of being gifted, the non-gifted people must be feeling a little jealous or left behind. Few people hate talking to strangers and they have a very limited friend circle. Such people are not very extrovert generally and even if they are, they are choosy for their friends. In fact sometimes they treat even their friends like mere acquaintances. So such people are not left with too many people on their path of success and they end up using ladder of success instead of elevator, because if you want to use the fast and efficient elevator, you must be comfortable to climb on it with others. If you are too choosy and solitary, then elevator is not for you. I am extrovert but I don’t like to talk to everyone. I have my preferences. I have a list of topics on which I can talk and would like to discuss. I can’t just go on talking on any topic. I decide which person to talk to and whose number to save. I really don’t remember names and faces if I meet a person after 4-5 months. Sometimes very strange things have happened to me, I’ll meet somebody walking on the road, the person will wave to me. I’ll also wave because that man seems to be a known man. I’ll speak to that person for 15 minutes and then we said good bye to each other. I didn’t know his name. After reaching home I realised, He Was my neighbour’s husband. That’s the reality of non-gifted people. So what do we do to enhance our networking skills? We all know the importance and significance of art of networking in our career and personal life. But what if we are not amongst those gifted ones. What to do to prove ourselves as good networkers because many like me would like to climb the elevator of success instead of elevator.
Make up your mind
What does it mean? It means get ready and get set. Prepare yourself. Decide if you really want to be a good networker. If you are scared of fast and rapid life with lots of people around, then better don’t take this way. Once you decide that you actually need that enzymatic reaction of networking to boost the speed of growth of your business and want to see your business mushrooming, then get started for the practical exposure. Doing it half-heartedly, will waste your time effort and money. So make up and open your mind doors to Networking.
Start with virtual networking.
Virtual networking is the intangible form of networking. Start with virtual networking. Register yourself on all the social networking sites and professional networking sites or networks. Start importing contacts. Send invitations to people you know and then people whom they know. Your school mates, college buddies, friends, wives’ Friends and relatives, colleagues. Yes if you can do it all on your own in less than two hours, than consider that the drill has just started for you. Sign up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus etc. Stay active on these social networking sites and start making your own friend circle. Make your communities, groups or pages on these sites and gradually start getting in touch with those people, whom you have lost contact with, from last three days.
Reach up to real networking
Starting with virtual networking, reach up to real networking. Make outing programs with your friends, or call them to plan someday for coffee. Call them at your place and go to their places often. Start talking to all your friends to day. When we talk our well settled, dynamic . Start meeting people, start calling people on their phones. Do not avoid invitations to parties, be it birthday party or a company official launch party. Make it sure that you attend every party and you meet people.
Try to become Technology Friendly
As you don’t remember names and faces, take assistance from technology. The moment you meet somebody, save his number with all his details like email id, company name, website and address on your smart phone. Be ready with your phone or gadget every time. Save all the birthdays, anniversaries or occasions in your phone and don’t forget ever to wish everyone. Use your phone calendar frequently. Add all of your friends and colleagues on your BBM list (Black berry messenger list).
Pretend to be a social party animal
People stop calling you for get together or parties, be it official or personal if you seem like a disinterested kind of a person. Nobody want a gloomy face to spil their party. Always show your interest to be a part of the party or get together. People will then like to invite you and you can start expanding your network. If you will avoid meeting and talking to people after some time people will start avoiding you.
Organise dinners or get together
Is not good to be on the “invited list” always. Take initiative to organise dinners or parties at home or some good places. Invite your friends, your colleagues with families. Your boss, of course, with whole family. This will improve your relationship with your relative and peer group and good relationships are always for the better.
To spread your network more socially, Try and join activities like Gym, sports, kitty parties, cricket clubs, youth association, RWA’s etc. These association or activities will bring you in touch with those people whom you can never meet otherwise. You can make a good bunch of friends this way, having a similar interest.
Attend conferences or conclaves
Professionally you can do so many things to let people know about you and to know people. Attend the conferences and conclaves organised by some many organisations these days. Just few days back I attended a conclave. The talent acquisition conclave 2011. Believe me in just 3 hours I met all those people whom I was trying to head hunt from last two months. I met all those people; they are on my client list today. Not only has this, so many people who were known in the industry, come to know me too. These professional conferences are absolutely perfect platform for networking.
As I am into training and staffing, I can spread the word about my company and the services we provide, by organising various seminars and conferences, like web chats, webinars, seminars, quiz competitions, free training programs, and discussions forums etc. This will invite the known and similar industry people and we all can network together. This will expand our network and we shall understand the industry in a better way. In staffing industry, Networking plays a major role, as its all about people, people and people.
Feel ok about personal conversation
Sometimes in a party an awkward situation pops up when somebody asks you a personal question or some awkward question. Don’t be uncomfortable with that. This will just pass away and then you’ll feel more comfortable talking about your personal things. Being an introvert, we don’t like sharing our personal life with others, but it happens that somebody who is really important for you asks you something very personal. Neither you can answer the question nor you can avoid the person. Its better you make a choice and answer the question. In fact I suggest that to be counted amongst the friend list and good books of few very important people, we also should not hesitate to get a little personal. This just brings the two people in a comfort zone, where it gets easier to break the ice.
Don’t be shy to behave as a poker
Sometimes you are in a party and you see that business tycoon, you always wanted to meet. But he seems to be surrounded by so many people. You start feeling awkward how to enter the crowd and talk to him. What if he asks you to come later, what if he doesn’t respond to you? Or sometimes the person you want to meet, is sitting alone in a corner and doesn’t seem to be in a mood to talk, then also you feel why to disturb him, what If he gets annoyed. I say, don’t think that much. Cut the mumbo jumbo and just jump. You got to talk to that person. He is important. Go into the crowd, be confident, just look into the eyes of that person, let him look at you in the eyes, say excuse me to all of the others, extend your hand to shake and introduce yourself with a big friendly smile and warm gesture. Start throwing magic words. If he is sitting alone, it’s easier, be polite, go and ask him if you recognise him right, As he say yes, express your luck to have met him today and again start throwing magic words. Don’t be shy to poke.
Keep a planner handy
As you are not a person with great memory, always keep a planner handy. Jot down all the important dates, things and appointments into it. Now you’ll say why not to use our phone or laptop for that. Well, it’s a scientific truth, whenever we jot down something with a pen or pencil on a paper, we remember it to the longer time as compared to when we type it. So write it. You can use your mobile or laptop to remind you as your planner or notepad wont jump up to remind you about your appointment but your mobile and your laptop can.
Be generous. When you are out in the market to expose your business, to network, to market yourself. Others might be doing the same. I have seen people in a conference eager to meet with influential people, running here and there behind those people with their visiting cards in hand, but when somebody else approaches them, give them respect and tries to share visiting card, they show air of arrogance. We must be generous out there; this kind of attitude will not take one anywhere.
Enhance your listening skills
You are not a talkative person. You are here for networking. People are talking to you but you don’t have anything to say. Don’t worry, don’t run away. Just improve and enhance your listening skills. If you can talk at least listen. Those who love talking always like those who listen to them So, be one of them. Use your each and every skill for networking to elevate the success.
Don’t be lethargic
Few professionals act lethargic. They avoid get together, parties, professional meetings etc. They feel lethargic to do something about their weaknesses. If you are not a bad networker, you must not let it be. One must try hard to work towards it. This definitely won’t harm anybody. We must feel energetic and boosted every time, so that we don’t miss any opportunity to grow more.
These are just few practical tips to become a networking person. Networking is a must these days. The one who knows people is always considered more powerful than one who knows people. And we know people only when we network. So networking should not be avoided. If one has learnt the right art of networking. There is no looking back.