Network (net-work): interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one’s career.
Raise your hand if you love networking. No, not one of you? Ok, I see a few hands. Don’t worry for those of you that didn't raise your hand, you’re not alone. Networking, or the thought of meeting strangers face to face and making small talk, can be nerve-wracking. But did you know that studies consistently show networking is the best way to find a new job, connect with similar individuals, and find a mentor? Yet one in four people don’t network!
We all know that networking can greatly enhance who you know. And as we network, connections are made between people who have a need and people who have a good or service to fill that need. Okay, but are you asking yourself these questions 'why should you care?' Or 'what’s in it for you?'
Here is how learning to love networking can benefit you:
● Increases your knowledge base. Discussing issues with others expands your knowledge, it helps you find someone who knows the answer when you might be stuck, and gives you the opportunity to see topics from a broader perspective.
● Being in the right place at the right time. “Luck” is the intersection of hard work and opportunity. Networking leads to those opportunities – to have the chance to be considered even when that opportunity isn’t publically known, available, or you might not look like the right fit on paper.
● Promotion. The more people who know you, know your talent stack, and trust you - the better you’ll be. It'll help you to propel your career, business, or sales. Word of mouth remains the best form of advertising.
● Self esteem. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, once we’ve got food, water, and we’re safe - we crave relationships, friends, and esteem. Putting yourself “out there” helps you feel better about your abilities, and gains those friendships and relationships.
Ok, so what can you do? First, assess whether you want to improve your network. The theory of Dunbar’s Number says we can only hold 150 stable relationships - now is the time to examine the relationships you have currently. Are they bringing you the value you deserve?
If you assess your network and decide you want to make changes - how can you make improvements? Start by making a goal to meet 3 new people and connect with them on an ongoing basis. To truly build a network, you need to work on those relationships.
(HR Pro Tip: Fox Valley SHRM meetings and other opportunities are a great way to start! If a happy hours sounds appealing, watch for details on our event to be held at Houdini's Gastropub on September 11.)
● Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce events
● Volunteering in our community (we're are throwing out an ask for anyone looking to help facilitate our SHRM certification study groups - we are still in need!)
● WI SHRM state conference
● FVSHRM supported mock interviews in our local High Schools
As you are meeting new people, keep in mind that one of the greatest ways to build a relationship is to ask questions. Before you know it, you’ll quickly be swapping information based on your talent and opening doors to new opportunities.
We look forward to connecting with you!