Statistics show that 7.5 out of 10 people get jobs and indeed business opportunities through networking. In sales it also a fact that referrals get 80% more success rates than cold calls. If these facts don’t mean much to you, let me try and break it down a bit more.
That job you are looking for? The chances you’ll get it by sending in a CV is 1 out of 4. The chances that you will get it by networking are 3 out of 4. If there are 10 slots and 1000 of you apply by sending CV’s only, what you are really all competing for are 2-3 slots. The remaining slots are more likely to be taken up by people who have mastered the art of networking. This same statistics holds true for business as well. That proposal you are dropping is not likely what will get you very far. Shocking? It’s for real. Tap in here.
First, the question you need to ask is, what is networking? You also need to learn how to network effectively. Believe me, I am a student of networking, only my teachers can tell you how well I’m doing :). But seriously, you can have an advantage by virtue of your personality, but largely its a skill you can (and MUST) learn.
“Networking is making links from people we know to people they know, in an organized way, for a specific purpose, while remaining committed to doing our part, expecting nothing in return.” – Donna Fisher and Sandy Vilas, Power Networking
This is one definition of networking I have kept and used a lot at seminars and workshops. Its simple and straight to the point – its making links from known to unknown in a systemic way for a purpose, not depending only on the network but doing our part, and not expecting that anything unfair will be done other than simple recommendation :). If you haven’t been conciously networking…you are unconciously “jonsing” ( I hope thats english).
What does networking involve, is it inborn or can I learn?
Analyzing the kinds of help you will need in achieving your goals.
Analyzing & developing your people skills.
Building and cultivating your network accordingly
Establishing goals is easy. Make them SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable/Achievable,Realistic and Time bound. What is it you want to achieve? A job? A business deal? Marriage :)? Set your sails, no wind will favour you if your sails are not set.
Analyzing the type of help you will need is easy too. Do you need someone to help talk to someone else? Do you need access? Do you need mentorship? Training? Patnership? Who do you need? Think about it.
Analyzing and developing your people skills. I’ll advice you use the star model.
Once you have a clear picture of your goals, do a needs analysis. what skills do I have gaps in. Here are some tips to help you know what good networking skills require.
How well, not how many. How deep, not how high. – The quality of the relationships you have weigh more than their quantity. A good quality relationship with a GM (Gate Man) also scores more points than a low quality relationship with a GM (General Manager). Treat everybody as equals, a network is not a bureaucracy or hierachy, it’s a level playing field, treat everyone as equals.
Take it easy. – It doesn’t have to translate today. Relationships are like seeds, you need to nuture them to grow, that requires patience and skill. Slow down, no one gets married on their first date :), get to know people personally, not just from a business front.
Different is Good. – Don’t target networking with people who only think like you, are of the same background with you, or are of the same sex with you. A diversified portolio of people works as well in networking as it does in the stock market 🙂
Gratitude Works. – Learn to say thank you. Learn to pick up your phone and call just for the sake of calling. Don’t wait to need the relationship before developing it. Cultivate your relationships, give good deserving compliments. Learn to give just to give, not only when you want something in return.
Think friendly. – Research has shown that shyness is not inborn but is learnt. While we were children, we simply walked over to the play ground and just got friendly, we learnt to be shy because of experiences of rejection. If you are shy, take concious effort to break it. Don’t just glide through life like an invisible man/woman, get friendly! That MD is human. If you go for a meeting, training, seminar, association meeting – Socialize. Tell yourself, “we are all in kindergaten:)”
Hub! – I’m ICT (by background), so I know what a hub is :). Its that device that serves as a connection point between other computers or devices. Be a network node, take pleasure in introducing people to people. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to reconnect with someone when “you” don’t need it. E.g. “Hello Yemi, I just gave someone your number now, I think there are possibilities, his name is Shina.” Also make use of the relationships you have to develop other ones.
Ask! – There are many things that pass us by everyday, just simply because we were too shy, too fearful or too stup** to ask. Ask, it does wonders. The good book says, ask, and it shall be given to you. People can’t help you if they don’t know your needs. Where your opportunity specks, hear what the young man heard.
If you follow these well, you’ll see results in little time. And in case you are wondering, what if I don’t know anybody? How can I grow my network? Can I be disadvantaged? Well, there is a law called the law of 250. I’ll feature that in another post.
Please let me know when you get results, and feel free to forward this link, bookmark it and of course recommend me :). Share your ideas here as well, we all need each other.