The old adage “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is programmed into many of us when we are looking to start our careers. Through this mindset, we discover early how valuable networking is to not only advance our skills but develop integral working relationships inside and outside organizations that can span a career lifetime.
We greatly value this mindset having seen first-hand how impactful it is for both our colleague’s and organization’s growth. In recent months we’ve engaged with some of the most influential networkers within our organization and gathered their insights on how to successfully network. This is what they had to say:
- Networking was the single most effective way to grow a career and build great teams
- It’s a low stakes way to meet new people that can connect you to information, opportunities and other new people
- Allows you to hear best practices, different ways of doing things, and alternative perspectives and viewpoints.
- Don’t underestimate the power of connection. “Without exaggeration, I would not be where I am today without heavily relying on the professional network I have built over the last 15 years”.
In terms of building your network, there are many different ways to start. Getting involved in your community, finding causes and opportunities that genuinely interest you and not looking past the individuals you interact with today are all great ways to begin. Volunteerism is a key activity that has a low barrier to entry. Joining a not-for-profit or industry association board is a great way to meet people. Of course, within your current position, be it in a post-secondary or professional setting, there are many individuals that can become part of your network right now. Ensure you take the time to get to know others, ask about their own journeys and never forget to be yourself. Don’t feel you need to fit yourself into someone else’s mold. Figure out what will feel authentic to you and then focus on events, associations or other networking leads and opportunities that will best allow you to bring your authentic self to the process. Not only will it make you more effective in your networking efforts, but it’s also what allows you to tap into the energy and fun that can be had through professional networking.
It’s important to remember to enjoy the journey: avoid intentionally doing things for the purposes of “growing your network”. Instead, approach it with a low self-interest, be kind and fair to everyone you work with professionally, work hard in every role and help as many people as you can along the way.