Author – Claire Fulford
An old friend recently remarked that I always know what I am going to do next, what my next job will be and how I am going to get it. Apart from my recent decision to start my own business (call me if you need a coach!), I felt like I had mostly just been in the right place at the right time. When I reflected more closely on his comment, in reality, opportunities come to me because I network. A lot. Mostly because I enjoy meeting people and hearing their story, both of us not realising the value of our connection until later.
Without networking, I would not have known about any of the jobs I have held since leaving university (and I wouldn’t have some of my great friends either!). Every one of my jobs has been suggested to me through people I have known or those I have made it my business to know. So many people out there hate networking and do everything in their power to slip out sidedoors or check email to avoid the coffee break at conferences and corporate retreats.
The old adage…’its not what you know its who you know’ only became an old adage thanks to networking. There are people whose life purpose is to bring others together. Malcom Gladwell called them Connectors in his book “The Tipping Point”. They are “a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [… for] making friends and acquaintances” thanks to “…something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy”. We are certainly not all connectors…but we all need one now and then and the only way to find them is through networking.
I implore you next time you get the opportunity, make the effort to network. Accept an invite to lunch, hang around the sandwiches (not in a creepy way) at the next conference you’re at and strike up a conversation over egg & lettuce or find the person in your organisation who you can help and ask them out for coffee. If all of this seems a bit daunting…try to prepare in advance. Consider a topic to discuss with others and decide on your purpose for networking at that event…are you looking to meet new clients or understand more about industry challenges you might be able to solve. You never know who you might meet (it could be me!).
What are some of your networking success stories?