For some, networking is a dream come true…
And for others… Not so much!
Introvert: There’s a networking event tonight. I need to be prepping all day. What am I going to wear? What am I going to talk about? What’s the purpose of networking? I hate working the room like those professionals (i.e. extroverts).
Or you might be somewhere in the middle! Regardless, if you don’t know how to effectively network, then that big room of people can be terrifying.
noun | net·work·ing
Let’s get technical for a little bit. There are two types of technical networks: switches and routers.
Switches allow for multiple devices (printers or computers) to work on one network. For example, the accounting department (depending how large your organization is) might have accountants that specifically focus on Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and Overhead. Networking between these roles within a department is important to allow for smooth operations.
Routers allow for these internal devices to connect to the Internet, connecting multiple networks together. Think of a company in this analogy; it is essential that different departments or divisions within a company talk with each other. Not only will this increase productivity but it saves money for your organization. Sales should be networking with accounting and product management. Accounting should network with operations, sales, and marketing. It’s imperative that these different groups of people talk to each other.
While this analogy isn’t perfect, it’s important to note that there is both internal and external networking. Internal networking allows for an organization to operate smoothly. External networking allows for yourself or an organization to build a web of contacts either for partnerships, strategic alliances, customers, suppliers, etc.
So what’s the point? Humans were created to connect with one another. In the professional sense, it’s important to connect with one another to build something great. By networking, you could find a partner or a potential employer or even just a friend/mentor.
Depending where you are in the life cycle of a business (entrepreneur or a multi-million dollar business), there are two key things that we’ve found valuable about networking: learn something and get ideas. No matter where you are in your life, you can always learn something. This is a result of the world changing drastically every single day. You alone are not able to capture all of the change happening. Get outside opinions.
(Feel like networking is comparable to death? Check out these quick tips to combat that feeling!)
Networking is not a guarantee for a sale or an immediate connection. You have to continue to cultivate your network like your would turn the soil for a garden to see a great return on investment.
With anything, practice makes perfect. Go out there and networking at least 3 times per week. If you’re an introvert, then this might seem terrifying to do.
(Want to learn how to network like a Green Beret? Check out this blog post from a few years ago.)
Are you a morning, afternoon, or evening person? Depending on which time you are more sociable, network during those times. I’m a morning person, so I tend to schedule breakfasts, morning coffees, lunches to network. As an introvert, this helps me “get networking out of the way.”
We’ve created a networking for introverts guide that will walk you through several steps to improve your networking skills. Click here or the picture below to get your FREE Networking for Introverts Guide!
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¹ Merriam Webster definition of Networking