Networking is not a nasty word
Networking. You would be surprised how many people say they dislike it. But why? Bad experiences? Maybe. Let's explore the concept of networking a bit more and find out why it's important.
We need to see networking as not just turning up at an event and shaking hands with people; we need to see it as an ongoing relationship building exercise. Networking is a crucial part of your business life from many perspectives: new clients, new employees, career development, keeping up to date with industry standards and getting the right information from the right people when you need it.
The difficulty as an allied health professional or private practice owner is that we are not taught how to network, and often don't understand it.
Networking is the art of building and maintaining connections for shared positive outcomes. Often people say they hate networking because they feel they are not good at it, where in fact we have the ability to network, but don't know how to go about it. Here is a simple strategy for you to utilise at your next networking event:
The Fellowship Approach
- Approach the event as if you are going to meet a friend, or chat with a group of friends about something you are mutually interested in. This will not only foster a more relaxed approach, it will frame your mind to be more receptive.
- View networking differently to a forced interaction, consider it a chance to get to know people. The more authentic you are, the more resilient and valuable your networks will be, and a greater return on your investment (your time).
Keep in mind what networking is NOT:
It is unlikely one person will lead you to the perfect opportunity. Rather, each person you connect with can offer you little ideas, advice, and information that will add to your journey to career and business opportunities, greater knowledge about specific organisations, and connections that can foster support in the work that you do.
Networking is about building connections and learning from the insight and experiences of others - not just spruiking about ourselves. It is not just using people, trying to have as many contacts as you can and expecting them to find you opportunities. It is a chance to learn and is a career-long process.
If you are gracious and proactive, the relationships that you build will eventually lead you to great referrals and opportunities. If you are truly interested and invested in learning from others, and you show them that respect, they will most likely want to offer you support in what you do.