Networking is one of the main occupational hazards of being a professional. Especially if you are an introvert, the idea of making connections that are crucial to your professional success can be a bit overwhelming. However, networking doesn’t mean that you talk and connect with every second person you bump into at an event. You have to make up a good, diverse network of people who will be able to help you move forward in your career. You need to build a ‘social capital’ in order for your network to have any impact on your success. So here are the people you should network with at every stage of your career to be able to climb the corporate ladder:
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Most often, your first interviews come from a relative’s contact or through your friends’ network. This is the first network than any professional can tap into when they have no experience. Make use of social media to stay in touch with those whom you know are well-connected or are working in good firms. Also, if you did your MBA, it is possible that your colleagues might have joined the course with some work experience. They are also good professional sources to stay in touch with.
If you know someone who handles money well or seems to have all the scoop about investments and mutual funds and what not, instantly make a connection. Our investment decisions are largely influenced by friends and those in our social circle. So it’s always good to have an expert to help you out when you make crucial choices.
Be it a senior who has moved away from your company to another or someone who is still around would be a good person to connect with. In this age of hyperconnectivity, take care to be visible enough to make an impression, but not too in-your-face to make others want to ignore your presence. A former boss who was happy with your performance can bring to your better opportunities from the company he or she is working for currently. Likewise, a happy boss at your present office will support you for internal promotions and also open up more opportunities that will let you grow professionally. Make it a point to build key relationships with seniors who matter.
It is always good to keep your enemies close, according to the old adage. Such competition is good because they push us to do our best even if it is to outperform them. In this way, it is more likely that you would take up challenges and work harder to get access to competitive tasks at work. You will be more focussed about your goals and will be motivated to achieve them. Author and strategy consultant Dorie Clark says, “Professional rivalries can be a powerful vehicle for self-discovery. Learning where you're weak, what values you cherish, and how to think big are important advantages.”
Just because you managed them and they are your juniors in age and experience, it does not mean that they wouldn’t be a useful contact. First off, they can help you upgrade your skills and keep up with new trends. Secondly, these days, millenials are not shy to suggest their former bosses for senior positions. If you have been a good mentor to them, they would want to work with you again and suggest your name if they find their new workplace is hiring for a position suitable for you. According to a Pricewater House Coopers survey, 76 percent of millenials interviewed said that they value their connections with senior managers and are eager to be mentored by qualified seniors.
Keeping in touch with the right people is the essence of networking. Having meaningful connections and making them last for long is an art. Mastering this art will be one of the keys to your professional success.