Networking is an essential part of professional growth and development. While its importance is widely discussed, networking is an area where many professionals struggle. This could be due to lack of knowledge, skills, interest or many other reasons. This article will focus on a few ways professionals can grow in their understanding and enjoyment of networking.
The key to someone understanding and getting true enjoyment out of professional networking is changing their mindset. Alexander Djerassi points out one way to begin this change is to start thinking about networking as a skill set rather than a chore. When someone goes to a party or other networking event just because they feel like they have to, they are unlikely to get much enjoyment out of it. However, a person who views networking as a skill set is more likely to have a good time, because they are actively looking to socialize and learn from the people they meet.
Another way professionals can develop a more positive attitude toward networking is to treat every person and social setting as a way to network. While workshops and corporate events provide great opportunities for networking, sometimes conversations with family members, classmates or chance encounters can be just as beneficial. For example, two people waiting in the same checkout line at a grocery store could have a conversation that leads to one or both of them making a connection that results in future professional success. Djerassi acknowledges anyone can be a direct or indirect source of information, so networking in any setting can lead to bigger and better things.
Another way professionals can increase their enjoyment of networking is by thinking about and understanding what they bring to the table. It’s important to understand in any networking situation, the conversations that provide the most opportunities for growth and development are ones where both sides benefit. Anyone attending a networking event with the mindset of learning as much as possible without sharing his or her own knowledge and skills is likely to leave disappointed. On the other hand, someone who is willing to share their relevant expertise and contacts comes across as much more trustworthy and approachable, and this helps open the door to stronger lines of communication.
One final way professionals can learn to love networking is by expanding their horizons. Many people think of networking as simply a way to get promoted or improve their position within an industry. In reality, the scope of networking goes well beyond promotions. Meeting new people can lead to new perspectives, management styles, skills, friendships and personal growth opportunities which can create continued success for years to come. Building relationships with people who have similar interests is a great way to promote mutual support and success for each partner along the way. However, it’s also important to establish relationships with professionals who might have differing interests, according to Alexander Djerassi. This is because both sides can exchange new philosophies and introduce each other to new skills or activities that increase their level of growth and development.