The importance of professional networking, and building real relationships
As we gear up for our biggest conference of the year, we thought it was an appropriate time to share some helpful tips on networking with professionals – why and how to network, and what you can get out of it.
Why do we network?
For some of us, the thought of networking makes us cringe. The truth is, nearly 100% of people say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships. Other figures to consider:
- Eighty-five percent of jobs are filled through networking
- For every dollar companies invest in travel, they receive $12.50 in return on their travel investment
Before you hit the road for that conference you just convinced your boss to approve, here are some tips on how to network effectively (and genuinely).
Tips on how to network effectively
Find groups that are relevant to your profession or industry. For the Oracle JD Edwards community that we are heavily involved in, this includes user group events and conferences:
Wherever your professional interests lie, it’s very likely there is a group out there for you. Take the time to find out more information and get involved.
Build relationships, not transactions.
As you begin making connections with other professionals, keep these things in mind:
- Be genuine. Be legitimately interested in the person you are talking to, ask thoughtful questions to learn more about them and their work. Taking this approach will also help you figure out what you have in common, and how you could potentially collaborate.
- Build real relationships, not just connections. As you meet people at conferences or events, make sure to stay in touch. Consider inviting them to lunch or coffee “just because” to stay connected and apprised of what each other are working on. If you are not in the same city, keep in touch via email and phone conversations.
- Reciprocity is key. One reason to stay in touch throughout the year, is to make sure you are not reaching out to your network only when you are asking them for something. Make sure to be helpful and offer your advice, your time – whatever you can – to your network as well.
- Keep it close to home. If your professional network is limited to the city where you live and work, that’s not a bad thing! Keeping in touch with former co-workers – or staying involved in a local industry group are great ways to expand your network of contacts. Your career may end up right where you started and you’ll have the connections to welcome you back.
- Schedule time. Make time once a month, or once a quarter, for networking – whether that is for local events, conferences, or simply getting together with professional peers and mentors.
- Have a plan. Before attending an event or conference, spend a few minutes thinking about the kinds of connections you are looking for and what would be helpful to you. Also think about what you have to offer connections you might meet.
- Be helpful. Share knowledge and experiences. Make helpful introductions between people you may know who don’t yet know each other.
Benefits of networking
Networking is arguably one of the most important things you can do to be successful personally and professionally. It’s a proven way to open up opportunities for yourself and your company. Networking is a great way to exchange knowledge and learn from your peers and industry thought leaders. There is also a lot of value in getting out of the office for events and conferences – a change of pace and new perspective can help motivate and inspire you in your work and beyond.
Will we see you at an event soon? If you are attending COLLABORATE19 – stop by and see us.
Written by Dan Barford and Laurel Nock.