The Art of Networking

Before I started this month’s article, I decided to look up the definition of ‘networking’, which states it is: the process of trying to meet new people who might be useful to you in your job, often through social activities. If [business] executives fail to exploit the opportunities of networking, they risk being left behind. Rather insensitive!

So no mention of permanent friendship and what that can do to change your life; just something you do to promote your business…and goodness, if you are an executive - not much hope at all.

I have been a local Councillor for 16 years; often attending networking events and when I was Leader of the Council it was expected of me.  I admit that I made many contacts during that period and before when I worked in the Law.  However, I would like to think that I have never exploited those contacts and in fact many have become true friends.  But I have to be realistic - for some people networking is extremely important and leads to all sorts of business leads, new business and even new employees – so an essential part of business life.

I have been involved in several local charities for a long time and have never thought of these as networking opportunities - in fact I would say I have, through some of these charities, found lifelong friends.  Networking in communities is extremely important and very rewarding.  The third sector is packed with volunteers, all with different reasons for being there, and we should embrace and encourage this.

The question posed to me this month: the art of networking.  I thought long and hard about this and decided that it is just your desire to meet new people; finding the same interests, listening to what others have to say rather than hogging the conversation, and trying your best to make people feel wanted.  And never forget that it is not always easy to walk into a room where it appears everyone knows each other.  It is even harder if you are a female – believe me I experience this a lot!