Full-time MBA participant, Israel Zaga, shares his thoughts on how to network more effectively to create valuable interactions.
Many people talk about networking, there are even events created just to network. But how can you tell if your efforts were successful? Yes, knowing people can be a powerful tool that will help you through your professional career; nonetheless, effective networking is not easy.
These are three networking to-do’s that I believe will make your networking efforts more effective:
1. Be strategic and selective
Effective networking is not only increasing the number of people you meet, but to be strategic and selective. In other words, it is better to meet less people with the specific characteristics that will help boost your career rather than spending too much time meeting people for the wrong reasons.
A successful approach must make sense and it should be related to a topic of relevance for both sides. It could be an e-mail, a message or a phone call with some exciting news or an interesting article that will be beneficial for him or her.
2. Relationship maintenance is key
Spend more time maintaining the good relationships you´ve managed to create. Many people think the hardest part is to introduce yourself or to make the first approach but, in fact, the hardest part is to maintain such relationships. As often happens, people you meet might be working in different companies and industries or might be living in other countries and that is why keeping in touch is so hard.
One of the most common mistakes I´ve seen is that people don’t know when to keep in touch with someone. Some are impatient, while others leave long periods of time without talking. It depends on how the relationship has been, but it should be gradual and at a pace where both feel comfortable to build a better connection day by day. It is true that strong connections don´t happen overnight, it takes time and small steps along the way.
3. What can you offer to others?
Networking should be a win-win situation. This doesn´t mean you should have 20 years of experience, know the President of your home country or be the CEO of a multinational company. This means that is important to know your strengths and understand what you can offer to your potential network. In my experience it is helpful to be known for something and to develop a self-image that should become your personal brand.
Ultimately, institutions and organisations are just made up of people, and it is these people who will decide if they will provide you access or not. If you can relate to people that are aligned to your interests, opportunities will appear. My opinion? Try it! You never know who is sitting next to you! And trust me, you´ll improve as you go on.
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