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  • Writer's pictureKim Catania

Creating Connections: The Power of Networking Part I

Networking. We know it’s important. Some of us are networking wizards, while others of us… Well, let’s just say we are not wizards. If you look up the word ‘networking’, you will likely find a definition that reads something like this:

A supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups that have a common interest.(

Or this:

Creating a group of acquaintances and colleagues and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. (

At a basic level, networking is building a community of people who help one another by sharing information. And despite what you might think, you already have a robust network through your current and former work colleagues, neighbors, friends and family. And you're likely benefitting from it regularly.

Think about it. Everyday you're engaging this network when you ask for a restaurant recommendation, or where your friend got that great jacket. At work, you may tap into colleagues to hear the latest on the new product rollout or learn that a merger is pending.

Networking is a natural part of daily life, yet when it comes to our goals for career advancement, networking for many of us transforms into a dreaded task.

It's true, networking to meet your career goals can feel like it has higher stakes. It's your career after all - a major part of your identity, the source of your income and how you express your professional talents. This is all the more reason to make building your professional network a priority.

It is easy to overlook the need to make connections within your own organization. The benefits of networking at work, however, are valuable to any career. Every connection that you make at work increases your chances of being recommended for new opportunities and greater responsibility. The information that your connections provide can help inspire new ideas.

Sharing your knowledge provides its own benefits. When you can share valuable information with contacts, you develop your reputation and expertise. As your network develops, word of your skills and expertise will reach the ‘higher ups’ and other departments. You will begin to be known for your entire skill set rather than by your job description alone.

Pulling a good network together takes effort, sincerity, and time. And one more really important thing… the right ATTITUDE.

A good networker works on the principle of reciprocity; that you must give something to get something. Never enter a networking relationship focused on only what you can get out of it – focus on what you can put into it! People are more likely to do something for you if you have done something for them. Be interested in the person first, then the business. Ask good open questions. Networking is not about selling yourself, it is about helping other people as a path to your own growth, development and goal attainment. In a phrase… Pay It Forward!

Yes, networking takes work, but the payoff is worth it.

Feeling overwhelmed? To help keep things in perspective, consider this quote from Buzzy Gordon, an award-winning journalist who traveled the world engaging with others:

“It takes only a moment’s conscious decision to become networker, … All it requires is a slight shift in attitude; and adopting one simple trifurcated rule: Greet each new acquaintance with an openness to learn more about that person, a willingness to help, and an offer to stay in touch.”

Your network is made up of your connections, but it is your network plan that enables you to really leverage the value of your network. In my next article, Creating Connection: The Power of Networking Part 2, we will look at a simple yet powerful approach to designing an effective Networking Plan.

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