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Networking

Networking

  • Develop your networking skills
  • Have access to resources useful to the pursuit of your goals
  • Increase your visibility and facilitate your career development

DESCRIPTION

In the age of connectivity, social networks and collaboration, no professional can afford to ignore the ecosystem in which he or she evolves. The relational resource, the collective resource is a richness that must be maintained and developed. It is from the exchange that the opportunities to progress will come. The feedback gleaned from meetings, the sharing of ideas, the inspiration, the serendipity... where else can you find all this if not by cultivating a quality relational network? The network is also a great way to recharge your batteries. The collective dynamic, the immersion in communities or events are all opportunities to recover precious energy. An energy that can fuel your professional adventure.

1. What kind of "networker" are you?

Everyone, without knowing it, is networking, building a network. Some are more active than others. Having a "networking" strategy does not necessarily mean that you enjoy this aspect of your professional life. In fact, the basic attitude towards networking, and the value one places on it, differs profoundly from person to person. There are roughly three types of people:

  • The enthusiasts
  • The moderates
  • Purists

1.1 The enthusiasts

The passionate person likes to build relationships deeply, likes to show off, meet people, and is strategic in their approach. They understand the benefits of maintaining relationships with leaders, as well as with peers who can provide emotional support or participate in strategic information exchanges.

  • Networking is important to him and he has his "network strategy": he knows who to approach, when and why
  • In a new position, he quickly makes new contacts, both internal and external
  • He makes specific efforts to get closer to his contacts on a personal level (sports, meals...)
  • Doesn't hesitate to make valuable requests (recommendations, participation in a project...)
  • He knows how to influence successful subordinates to join his team
  • Networking is a shadow job

Passionate people are able to create and develop their network over the long term, to take advantage of it to progress faster in their career. This profile, often valued for its passion and networking skills, may tend to be more concerned with its own survival than with the success of the company, and to change employers much more often.

1.2 The Moderate

The moderate knows the importance of the networking process, but is wary of its power. He prefers to build relationships directly related to ongoing activities and joint experience of his work, maintaining contacts once the task or mission is over.

  • His network owes much to luck, circumstance, and the people he has the opportunity to meet through work
  • Most of his network is directly related to his function, his projects, his department…
  • The most important contacts are his superiors
  • He seeks to recruit talented people for his team, he communicates his choices, but does not always succeed in getting who he wants
  • He feels uncomfortable when he has to build his network, when he has to approach people "cold". In the long term, the network of moderates tends to stagnate or even shrink.

1.3 The Purist

The purist refuses to take part in this kind of practice, which he considers totally artificial and reserved for show-offs who are trying to climb the ladder. He prefers to rely on the recognition of his expertise rather than on networking. He maintains good relationships with his clients because he believes that it is through this that the quality of his work will be truly appreciated. He focuses on his team, and the motivation of his collaborators.

  • Networking is considered artificial and false, he has no networking strategy
  • He does not attend events simply to network
  • It is not the network that counts but the results
  • His network is mainly composed of people he genuinely likes
  • He does not like to mix his internal and external contacts

Over time, the network of purists tends to wither away. They tend to be less integrated among their peers, and may play a much less important role than expected given their skills.

PUT INTO PRACTICE

1. Learn how to network

Don't like to network? Don't worry, you're not alone! Many professionals feel like they are playing a game that sounds fake. So how do you go about it?

1.1 A learning opportunity rather than a chore

You can learn to change the way you look at networking. Imagine that you feel obliged to go to a work function, and you say to yourself "I hate these kinds of events, I'll have to pretend to be comfortable there". You can change your mindset by saying to yourself, "Who knows, it might be interesting, sometimes a conversation can generate new ideas and create new opportunities." By focusing on the positive, this activity will start to feel much more useful.

1.2 Identify common interests

Ask yourself how your interests and goals align with those of the people you will be meeting (or want to meet), and how this can help you build important working relationships.

1.3 Be clear about what you can offer

People who believe they have too little to offer are the least likely to engage in networking. Most individuals tend to underestimate the resources they have that may be of interest to others. We tend to focus on tangible things and ignore the fact that we can offer things like gratitude, appreciation (expressed sincerely). Perhaps you have unique knowledge that can be useful to those you wish to include in your network: expertise, generational trends, new technologies... When we have a lot to offer others, sound advice, access to resources... Networking seems easier and less focused on self-promotion.

1.4 Find a higher purpose

Looking at networking with a higher purpose (e.g. helping my clients, supporting my business) rather than a personal benefit (boosting my career) makes networking feel more authentic, less "dirty" and more appealing.

1.5 Get out of your comfort zone

The best way to get out of your comfort zone is to take on regular challenges, to face the beliefs and emotions that hinder you, and discover new talents. A good exercise to progress: learn to "pitch", that is to say to present your project, to introduce yourself, in an attractive and convincing way, in a maximum of two minutes. This shows that you have a good command of your subject.

2. Help your collaborators to network

Given these differences in profiles, how can you as a leader or manager help your employees to access and make good use of the knowledge and support related to networking?

2.1 Purists

  • You can help purists, who are generally reluctant to network, to connect with the people they need to pass on their knowledge and resources by referring to certain people or by sharing your own "social capital.
  • By looking at the expertise of the people around them, purists can identify areas where it would make sense to connect people who can help each other.

2.2 Passionate

  • Beware of the people skills of passionate people, those dynamic personalities who like to show off, sometimes implementing Machiavellian tactics, more concerned with their own survival than the success of their business. Don't underestimate the risk of seeing those who flit about within their large internal and external networks leave.

2.3 Moderates

  • Give moderates visibility, creating opportunities for them to join cross-functional teams or participate in multi-disciplinary projects.
  • Organise social events that allow moderates to connect with colleagues from different teams.
  • Offer liaison or representative positions for their team or department, secondments to other offices, assignments to key client accounts, or internal job rotations.
  • Cover a portion of the membership fees for professional associations. Moderates, who are particularly well integrated within their department or trade, will bring the benefits of the relationships they create to their entire network.