When you hear the word ‘networking,’ what springs to mind? Standing around awkwardly, feigning interest as the 20th person you have spoken to assaults your senses with ‘management speak,’? Or having to listen to people telling you how successful they are and being left with a serious case of impostor syndrome?
Networking events at their worst can be a bit of an ordeal. But at their best, they can be a fantastic way to build mutually beneficial relationships, discover opportunities, and gain different perspectives. Here’s what managers can get from networking.
The benefits managers get from networking
A LinkedIn study found that 80% of professionals thought that networking was important for career success. We all remember networking events that made us cringe, but generally, the benefits of strategic networking outweigh the negatives.
It builds connections
True networking is not about being in it for what you can get, you have to give something out as well. This is an important part of building successful relationships where you and your connections trust and help each other. Reach out to your connections regularly and find opportunities to help them. What you put in, you’ll get back.
It will refresh you
If your business feels stagnant or you need some fresh inspiration, networking can be a great way to get some new ideas. The people you meet will help you gain new perspectives and come up with things you may never have thought of.
Your connections can become your sounding board
It can be tough and lonely at the top, but having some solid connections in your network can really help you out. Are you feeling a bit lost or struggling to make a decision? Talk to someone you trust in your network. They may have been there and done that, so you could just get some very sound advice.
Networking builds your reputation
When you go to networking events, be sure to offer helpful information to others and always follow up with people you have spoken to. You’ll be remembered as someone who is knowledgeable and supportive, and not just out for themselves. This will attract more opportunities than constantly being ‘on the hustle’ at events.
It helps you stay up-to-date with developments in the business world
When you are networking, you may hear about new developments, whether it’s a new technology or something else that the people in the know are adopting. This can help your business avoid falling behind the competition, and of course, if it’s something that’s going to make your life easier, you want to know about it!
Networking can improve your confidence
You may cringe inwardly at the idea of putting yourself out there or selling yourself to people, but networking regularly can really improve your confidence and communication skills. If you’re a new manager or a business owner who has recently taken on employees this can be especially helpful. When you become a better communicator and you learn the art of building good relationships with people, this can only make you a better leader of your team.
You might feel that networking doesn’t come naturally to you, and this is the case for many people. My top tip for successful networking is to have the right agenda. Done well, networking shouldn’t feel like you’re ‘using’ people to advance yourself and your business. It should feel like a mutually beneficial relationship where you’re keen to help each other grow. Use this as your starting point, and see how much more natural it all feels.
Struggling with where to begin or other management issues?
Then a mentoring session can build your confidence and give you the sounding board you need.