I’ve always felt a bit guilty walking into the office late or leaving early to go to a networking event, but an event I attended recently changed my mindset about this. I had the opportunity to hear Melissa Green speak about her career at Fairfax, Facebook and as a director of the Essendon Football Club. One of her key takeaways was that “Networking is Working”.
Attending an event isn’t slacking off, it’s an investment in your career. Research indicates that individuals who participate in networking activities, such as attending after work drinks, attending conferences and keeping in touch with former colleagues have higher levels of performance ratings, salary growth and career satisfaction. Forget about other peoples perceptions, investing time in building your network will benefit you and your company.
The other problem many of us face is that we don’t enjoy networking. Networking for the purpose of advancing our career makes us feel dirty and we don’t want to be on the receiving end of a sales pitch. An ‘important’ work deadline always seems like a legitimate excuse for skipping an event you signed up to. Hands up if you’re guilty of this? – yes me too. We need to change our internal perception of networking from being ‘icky’ to a necessary activity with huge positive benefits that needs to be prioritised.
If you’ve managed to drag yourself away from an ‘important’ deadline to turn up to an event the stats show that you probably spent at least half the time with people you already know, which kind of defeats the purpose of being there to meet new people. Interestingly, another piece of research suggest this may not actually be a bad thing, maintaining internal networks within your organisation is a particularly important factor in working your way up the corporate ladder. Internal networking is more likely to lead to greater salary growth and greater career satisfaction than networking externally.
To be most effective, networking should be purposeful. Connections made through an organised introduction are more likely to stick than meeting someone without an introduction. Done well, the person introducing you will give you credibility and help create that all important good first impression. Malcom Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point discusses a certain type of person who is a “Connector”, who thrives on connecting individuals for mutual benefit. They have a special gift that brings the world together. These people can be an invaluable addition to your network. LinkedIn is another great modern day resource for identifying an existing connection who can provide an introduction to someone you’d like to meet.
Melissa was purposeful in her networking, she approached a speaker after an event she attended and asked how they became a Director of the football club. Her purpose was to obtain useful information, which ultimately led to building a strong connection over time with the individual and being offered a Director role at the club. We need to follow Melissa’s lead and change our mindset to see the value in networking, it’s not socialising and it’s shouldn’t feel ‘icky’, it’s important work that needs to be prioritised.
What connections have you created or nurtured today?
PS – when you’re ready, here’s 4 ways Rachel can help you progress your career:
1. Download Rachel’s White Paper the Game to Grow.
2. Come along to the next Professional Women’s Networking Event hosted by Rachel.
3. Sign up to Rachel’s newsletter for regular insights on growing your career.
4. Work with Rachel by joining her Game to Grow coaching program. Contact Rachel for an information pack.