“The more I meet people the more I would like to meet more of them…” Sounds like law of increasing marginal utility (modified version of an economic term). Am I a natural in practicing business networking skills? Well, shall tell you soon. :-). But am certainly one of them who recognize the benefits of networking skills and practice business networking actively.
Business has experienced a sea change in this century. But one thing, that has remained the bedrock of performing any Business, is the power of connecting well with people. And that is why the world recognizes the benefits of professional networking.
Once I was going through one of the articles in The Harvard Business Review in which the great Jack Welch (former CEO of GE), mentioned that for any Business Graduate, to succeed in today’s world is to develop the appetite and imbibe of skills of developing. Proper Business Network and sustain it. And as per Jack Welch, a person who does it well today, keeps winning the race in his life. Unfortunately, it is such a realistic subject or concept that’s very hard to learn from classroom. It’s rather to be practiced more to learn more. There are good books on how to develop professional skills though.
In my short stint in the corporate world, I think I have learnt that no matter whichever business you are in, always ensure that you are well-connected with people. Skills, knowledge, experience are some wonderful expressions to define one’s capabilities; however, when you go for a job or change your job, people are more concerned about ‘ power of webbing'( A Spider Web is wonderfully woven). Here, by webbing I mean how your business network or professional network is intertwined and whether you are prepared to expand it as per the situation. To achieve professional success, it is imperative to have good social networking skills and business networking skills.
A great 21st Century manager is the one who has the power to develop processes and making it flexible with time; supplemented by the knack of building a strong professional network by pursuing the art of meeting more people and hold them back in his chest for lifetime. Believe me, you never know, who works when for you. Not everyone you meet is important in your life. Don’t discard anyone no matter how low profile or high profile an individual is! No individual is ordinary. Only our outlook make others look ordinary or extra-ordinary. To create a sustainable competitive advantage in today’s era it all about not showing your back to people; rather embrace every person you meet and build your professional network brick by brick or person by person in this case. J.
Albeit, your resume has tons of experience, we do mention some good corporate references. And today when we float our resume of the job portals, we mention our Linkedin profile URL as well. As many business experts would like to see who all we have known in our professional life or whom all have connected by practicing networking skills. Was it there before? Of course not! These instances signify that things aren’t the same anymore. It’s an era when you don’t chase banks for loans, it’s the other way round! What say? And I need not tell you how banks get your coordinates, right? Networking again! Of course, banks maintain a database and that too is an off shoot of the overall concept of business networking, at a different level though.
So, it’s quite simple to remain well-connected. What people do today on Facebook, BBM, WhatsApp etc., is all about social networking. I wouldn’t like to comment how effective and worthy this practice has been. But it certainly has its own advantage. Have you ever heard about: Business luncheon, our meeting at a Cafe, playing golf early morning with your counterparts, sending a box of chocolate on the eve of Diwali…All these are well-known practices that we follow today? Yes, they are!
The question arises here is why? The answer is clear, to remain in the contact with people whom we want to and strengthening the bond that we share with others. Different people adopt different approach to nurture or build their social networking skills. And let me tell you, everyone enjoys the attention they get and if one is remembered during an occasion, everyone feels good about it. Most people will not admit it though, but they do feel good and that strengthens the recall and in the long run the bond. Power of social networking again!
I have seen a lot of successful people running their business almost on sms (Short messaging service), Smsing is the new way to do business. It’s taking a new shape of discussing business. How on earth did one ever think that deals will be cracked through smss?! It is a reality today and how. When people are well connected and good inter personal relations with colleagues, associates and acquaintances, one can take the liberty of communicating through sms. It saves not only time but the communication is more personalized. It is easy as well. However, one can only do it if the people are well known and are a part of the close network. (If people can fall in love through smsing then anything is possible).
Well-connected is all about remaining the top of the mind recall to people who you have met once or may be several times. BBM(BlackBerry Messenger) is one prime example. How every person enjoys owning the BBM Pin. It’s a wonderful medium through which one can stay connected. Today, even when you fill the feedback form at a restaurant (I did it recently in Mumbai), you would find a request for sharing the BBM PIN to keep you updated. Isn’t it interesting? To many people, it may be an encroachment in the personal space. But as it’s becoming a part of our culture, people are getting accustomed sharing it quite often.
Social network is the next big thing happening. It’s a platform not only to find your lost friends, it’s also a place to make new friends. It was not possible before, but that’s what technology has done to mankind. Social networking is also very effectively used today for building business networking skill. The more you are connected with the world, better you get informed about the world around you. Must I still explain what the benefits of networking are?
The matra is simple. If you are closing your doors for others, then how can you expect others to open the same for you!
I don’t deny the fact that the level of your profession decides the format of your networking. And as you go up in the ladder, it keeps on changing. But the most critical moment of your life is when you make a start. As a beginner, your focus should be only on exploring the world more and exchange your visiting cards frequently with those you come across on the move…And, do record their shared information in your phone( ensure there is a memory back up) or in your notebook.
Follow some of these practices and stay connected always: ( must for a beginner)
1. As I said before, no one is small in this world. So treat everyone with equal respect and you never know who can work for you. Always be humble to others and make them feel that they are special and important to you.
2. Don’t forget to exchange your card. In case, the person you wish to exchange your card is short of cards then don’t worry, ask for his phone number and email address.
3. Some big shots may be reluctant to share their cell numbers to you( unless they see business from you), don’t get afraid. In a gentle manner ask for their office number or preferable email address. Believe me, one you have the email id, your jobs start to reach to their direct number. And it’s highly chanllenging at time!
4. Always find out a reason to get connected. For instance: if you are associated with a company, then you can send some mailers stating some of your new initiatives through mails or letters, sending some newsletters, annual reports, season greetings etc. It completely depends on the nature of the business you are in. But nothing like sending some piece of information which could be beneficial for the other person. It works!!!
So, people do recognize the benefits of developing networking skills, work on acquiring business networking skills and practice social networking skills. As you discipline yourself for these you will start reaping the fruits and the benefits of networking. It surely will help your professional career take the necessary leap!