Human beings as a species are known to operate best when we surround ourselves with other people. These people could be family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or simply people that offer a certain value to our lives. It is important to leverage the power of people when it comes to personal, academic, financial, professional, spiritual, and social growth.
The term for when people establish meaningful relationships is known as networking. We have all seen or heard of this term before in school, college, the workplace, or any social group we are a part of. The simplest way to define networking is the process of meeting new people. In life, we meet different people at different times with different intentions. For example, in school, we meet people who are assigned the same classes as us. Out of this, some people become friends, some become rivals, and some become enemies. As we grow older, we meet people at work or in different social settings such as workshops, our place of employment, or through mutual connections.
All of us have been through this at some point in life. However, the importance has not been spoken of as such. While we know that it is important to network, we never really talk about why this is so.
Networking – Learning the Basics
It has been established that networking is incredibly important in the world we live in. It helps across different walks of life because no matter how qualified or capable we are, we simply cannot do it all. You could be the best coder in the world but if you have a tear in your shirt, you need someone who knows to mend it. Someone could know how to create the finest cuisine but needs someone to drive them around. This is how human society operates and provides value to one another.
To network means to adhere to the following as needed. You must want to learn, identify what the mutual interests are, and see what value you can offer.
The human mind is in a constant state of learning. The same can be said when it comes to networking. When we set out to network, we must keep an open mind about what can happen. For starters, we can network to learn a skill or gain knowledge akin to what happens in educational institutions. Furthermore, networking allows us to gain a new perspective. If we were stuck in a position that we simply could not find a way out of, knowing someone who might save us a ton of time. This applies to educational or professional settings where we learn more from each other than from textbooks and PowerPoint slides.
In the workplace, networking will allow you to make yourself more seen and at times, this will give you an edge over someone who might be performing better. It is a common understanding that promotions are a result of delivering results and being on good terms with the right people.
When it comes to networking, identifying common interests is one of the most reliable ways to get create meaningful connections. When people share a similar interest, it gives them something to bond over. Conversations and interactions might start over the mutual interest but over time, this can evolve into deeper relationships.
Mutual interests can be identified by either reading the room or by actively trying to establish it. For example, if you wish to get into the good books of your boss, you try to find something they like e.g. basketball. You do a little reconnaissance and find out they are a fan of the LA Lakers. When you get the time, you strike up a conversation about them which allows you to establish a line of contact beyond work. If you are a fan of rom-coms, finding like-minded individuals is an underappreciated joy. Logging into your favorite streaming service, watching a show, and then talking about is an amazing feeling.
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One way to effectively network with other people is by offering them certain value. At times, we might have a skill or quality that could allow us to offer more value than we are led to believe. We might rank lower in the structural hierarchy but a high-value skill could make you stand out. For example, you might be an intern at a law firm and largely fly under the radar. However, you make a mean BBQ and the word gets around about it. Your BBQ becomes an instant hit and people are suddenly all about it. This allows you to establish connections with these people that you can leverage to climb the corporate ladder.
If we have some form of value for people to gain from, this gives them the incentive to establish a connection. While this might seem shallow from afar, it is worth noting that not everyone from your network needs to be a friend and some people can exist only to serve a purpose. One way to find people to network with is through LinkedIn. All you need is a phone and internet connection to start creating a comprehensive network of people.
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Networking is an incredibly important aspect of the world we live in. Being able to create connections with different peoples of different depths and at different levels of value can do a lot more good than we are led to believe. Knowing how to leverage the people in your life for personal, academic, financial, professional, spiritual, and other forms of benefit can make the world of a difference for you.