One of the best ways for you to create contacts and expand your set of connections is to network. Establishing and maintaining professional relationships create opportunities to expand your client base and meet potential partners. The larger the network is, the more possibilities for professional connections. Simply being in an open system instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success.
According to a survey by Lou Adler CEO of Performance-based Hiring Learning Systems, 85% of all jobs fill via networking (Link to survey: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-survey-reveals-85-all-jobs-filled-via-networking-lou-adler), which is why it’s so important to incorporate in your professional routine.
Many women today attribute their professional success to their connections. However, it can still be difficult for women to network, especially with their male colleagues. According to a study of 118 companies by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co., women have fewer connections than men to members at and outside of work that can help them in their careers.
Additionally, studies have shown cases in which men and women prioritize relationships differently. For example, 10% of senior women executives said four or more executives helped them advance their careers, compared with 17% of senior men executives. But, more than half of the senior women said it is essential to have a higher-level sponsor help them, compared with 42% of senior men who prioritize such relationships.
That said, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to networking. To understand the importance and impact of networking, consider your goals first and objectives and create strategies to accomplish them.
Build relationships. Building relationships create a business. A customer will make a decision based on who they feel comfortable doing business with, which is why relationships matter. You should also consider joining an organization or program to help you find higher-level executives to advocate for your business and establish connections with a larger community.
Create new avenues for your business. Consider sprucing up or alter your business model. Does it match today’s ever-changing economy and technology? Networking allows you to create new avenues for your business that your original design might not have considered. Using social media to introduce your business and products can expand your client base. To remain competitive and current, use free services like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or others to connect with your audience.
Make an impact. Networking gives you the opportunity to stand out. Potential clients or business partners can finally put a name with a face. You make an impact, a lasting impression, and they’ll remember you. If you want to be the top competitor, you have to consistently network and stand out.
Attract and retain customers. Networking sets up a stage for introducing new services and products, which can attract new clients and educate existing ones. It allows you to tell your business’ story—your mission, goals, and experience.
Use reminders to stay consistent. Between 10% and 20% of your time at work should be used to network. Set a reminder alert on your phone or computer so you can remember to stay in touch with your connections. This method will help you maintain those relationships as well as acquire new ones.
Be strategic. Networking can be intimidating, especially in our fast paced world. Be strategic in planning where and how you spend your time. Select the functions and programs based on the most impact and effectiveness. Maximize the time you have, and your business will grow and become sustainable.
Be prepared and organized. Networking is like making a first impression. Create a succinct, relevant message that is impactful.
Be unique. Know your audience and tailor your message to your specific audience