As a person with 19 years of employment experience, I have sat in numerous meetings, attended social functions and traveled around the world where I have met many leaders, peers and employees from different fields. These experiences afforded me the opportunity to form a network. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines network as a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons (such as friends or professional colleagues).
The network which includes people from all backgrounds and line of work helped me get things done for my employees that I may not have been able to get done otherwise due to possible red tape or a lack of knowledge. Networking has also allowed me the opportunity to foster relationships with others that I may not have been able to otherwise just based off of not having a day to day interaction with them. To be honest networking in this day and age can be a lost art if you don’t keep up with those in your networking circle. Networking allows you to get things done or resources for your employees and or organization that you may not have been able to do if you just sit back and hope for things to change. As a networker, you have to be ready to go out and make things happen.
I know it can be a little nerve wrecking at first if you are an introvert, new to networking or don’t see the value in it. I can reassure you, once you embrace the concept, you will make every effort to make sure your network and your networking skills are strong.
As a leader, make sure your employees and peers know the value of networking. It is important to make sure that you and those around you are out here being more than just nets. You are probably thinking,” What does she mean by being a net?” You know the person at work who talks to a lot of people, has a lot of connections, knows a lot of things but you are just holding on to the information. You are out there in your boat catching the information, but you are not bringing it back to the shore to help feed the masses (coworker, employees, etc.)? You know keeping the information to yourself. Another example of this is telling people you want to network with them by exchanging information but never doing anything with it after the initial contact.
I know sis, you don’t trust everyone, you don’t feel like you should have to help these ‘grown” folks out. You believe everyone needs to figure it out on their own just like you had to. Well think about how you wish someone would have shared information with you. As the great humanitarian Mahatma Ghandi would say, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I believe a good leader will always make sure their employees and those they come in contact with have the basic knowledge of concepts while encouraging them to use them. All I am saying is share the information, don’t be a net. Remember our job is to be the light and plant the seed(s). Trust that God will do the rest.
You are probably thinking,” Okay sis, since you put it that way, I hear you, how do I start?
- Look at EVERY interaction with someone as an opportunity to add a resource or knowledge to your leadership bag.
- Always make sure you are ready to provide your contact information or receive someone else’s. I keep personal and professional business cards on hand (Yes, they are still used in 2018).
- Keep in Contact. Occasionally check in with your network connects. A phone call, email or meeting up for a cup of coffee or tea will solidify those relationships.
- Remember networking is a bartering system. Ask yourself what services or information you can give others in exchange for theirs.
- Share the value of networking. Let others know the importance of networking and how it can help you gain resources and knowledge for your employees and organization.
- Watch it work. When you have built a strong network, it is a beautiful sight. There will be times where you won’t have to lift a finger because all of the pieces will fall into place. Your work is done sis, now sit back and watch it work.
What are some of your networking techniques? Do you need to follow up with some of your contacts? Whatever your answers are it’s okay sis, we know you are out there being great, just make sure your network is legit and you are not out here being a net.