Everyone in business knows the importance of networking, but do we plan for it? For most, networking opportunities tend to be an “if I can squeeze it into my busy schedule” kind of situation. However, this complacent attitude toward face-to-face interaction with colleagues and potential clients could be the very thing keeping you from being truly successful in the business world. Therefore, to reach the pinnacle of professional success, networking must be an intentional, ongoing activity – not something just done if time allows.
It’s Who Someone Else Knows
Ever heard the saying “The opposite of networking is NOT working”? This is true on so many levels. Even professions that thrive on individual manpower still require some degree of networking to achieve success.
For example, take a computer programmer. The initial thought is that the tasks performed by these individuals are best accomplished by working alone, without interruption because the programmer must reply on their individual skill set to do their job. This rings true until they run into a problem or the technology advances beyond their knowledge base. The way a programmer may network may not be during the typical after-hours business mixer, but rather via chat rooms, online discussion boards or yes, in person during afterhours workshops and/or conventions.
Networking is most effective when done face-to-face. Why? Because people desire to do business with someone they know, like and have met. Speaking on the phone or exchanging emails/texts does not really count as “meeting” someone. Truly meeting someone involves looking someone in the eye, picking up on body language to discover commonality while subconsciously conveying a genuine interest level. What people tend to forget is that networking is about getting to know someone, so you can find out who that person knows!
So, it is safe to say, without a doubt, quality networking is done face-to-face. The bad news for most professionals is finding time within their busy schedules to physically meet with others to network.
Plan Ahead, Work Backward
A while back I met with an old friend of mine who requested help meeting more people to get out of his professional rut and bolster his professional success. We met for lunch and discussed what he’s been doing so far to network with other professionals.
I shared with him the importance of in-person networking. I reminded him that the person he meets might not be able to help him, but the people they know could be the key to his success. In other words, everyone he meets has family, neighbors, business contacts, etc. that is unknown to him, but could be crucial to his current and future growth. (“The You in Business” pg. 12) This is a simple fact that most of us forget. Networking is really meeting the people you don’t already know!
However, the main problem was finding time in his busy schedule for face-to-face networking. This is where I suggested “scheduling backwards”. Basically, you plan ahead and make the time, no excuses. For example, I suggested he find out when applicable professional organizations meet monthly and reserve those times a year in advance. This would then enable him to schedule new meetings, events, appointments as each are requested around those specific meeting dates/times.
Face-to-face networking is THE key to professional success and it must be intentional. Scheduling backwards locks down days/times for face-to-face networking events during the upcoming year and forces you to schedule other meetings around those essential opportunities. Try it and watch your professional life thrive!
Improve Your Communication Skills and Business Prospects with Timothy Dimoff
Learning how making face-to-face networking opportunities a priority is the key component to getting the most out of your career. Contact Tim to schedule the The Lost Art of Human Communication to learn techniques to maximize one-on-one communication. You can also order a copy of Tim’s book The YOU in Business to find out more about how to build a strong business from the inside out!