The value of being mindful to networking opportunities
Networking is the backbone to most businesses and can often be one of the key drivers behind successful enterprises. Surprisingly though, in the time of year where objectives and KPIs are typically set, few businesses appear to place an importance of being mindful to networking opportunities on peoples road map for the year ahead.
It is fairly common these days for managers to know the importance of ensuring a team works well together internally, everyone pulling together to utilise the best communication skills to truly collaborate on their work. It's rare though for businesses to actively champion the development of the other most important skills in developing skills in 'active networking' and being mindful to the opportunities around you at all times.
I like to think that I have helped a couple of people out in my years in the workplace by connecting people in the opportunities I have stumbled across. Equally I have been on the receiving end of my share of connections where people have come to my rescue or spotted an opportunity on my behalf. Three things I have found work particularly well in making myself open to networking and in being an active networker are:
Be mindful of networking opportunities at all times.
Blundering into a meeting, event or conference with no set goal is traditionally a bad way to start any gathering but failing to be mindful of networking opportunities is equally as big a crime these days. Whether its a fleeting internal meeting taking place on the move or the most important external meeting of the year, employees can benefit greatly by being mindful of the networking opportunities that could exist from a meeting. It doesn't matter whether it’s simply an opportunity to connect two sides of the business who have a common goal in mind (but are currently unaware) or an opportunity to introduce a possible new contact to someone who has a specific need they might meet. Being an active networker and someone who openly tries to help people enables you to come across as focused, determined and the type of person others will want to do business with.
Be clear in your introductions then get out of the way.
Being helpful is one thing in business but it can easily be confused with interfering. If you have offered an opportunity to connect people and the offer has been received well, do it, do it quickly and then get right out of the way to avoid creating more work for yourself. Remaining in the conversation post the introduction will only confuse matters with you being the middle man. Make introductions clear and concise and don’t be shy about tackling business issues, after all, if the person you are connecting someone to knows why they are being introduced, they are more likely to come across well when they take the conversation forward from there.
Remember its business, not personal and its not your sole focus
Being an active networker can be highly rewarding, you can add a great deal of value to a great deal of people but its not your primary task. In a modern world full of social technology it's easy to become distracted by the noise of it all. From my experience, successful networking is done best when its always kept in the back of the mind and reacted too quickly but not personally. Its key when making an introduction to get out of the way as soon as you've made the introduction and allow those you are connecting to take it forward from there. You might be making the best connection ever but equally the two parties just might not fit, it doesnt matter to you, you were just the beginning of the conversation. Bothering yourself in the detail of what happens next sets you up to be an interfering busy-body when your main goal is what is top of your task list, the networking opportunity was simply that, an opportunity to connect two people and move on to what you need to get done.