“Networking” is one of the business buzzwords of today. This word originated with the idea of connecting computers together in a “local area network” so that they could communicate with one another. Today, the whole world is networked together through the Internet.
However, the concept of networking existed long before we started calling it that. In fact, it really wasn’t called anything, but people, especially business people, did it all the time. You see, networking isn’t just about computers; it’s about connecting together with others, so that ideas and information can travel back and forth, with or without computers in the loop.
Networking with others is an important part of any businessperson or business’ success. Through the relationships that we form with others, we find sources of supply, help with our problems and customers for our products and services. Even so, many people have trouble forming a successful network.
The key to forming a network is to understand that you already have one. That’s right; the people who you already know are all part of your personal network. While these people may not be business contacts, they may be know others who can become business contacts. You see, networking is not just depending upon the people that you know, but the people that they know as well. It’s making use of those contacts you have to make other, new contacts.
Another useful way to grow your network is by joining professional associations. Almost any type of profession you can imagine has its own association, often several different ones. They are not only a great source of information about what’s happening in your profession, but a great place to make contacts that can help you on the job and to further your career.
Don’t limit yourself to only those professional associations which are directly related to your profession. Professional associations from related fields may provide even more valuable contacts to add to your network. If you need more ideas on where to find people for your network, check out the BSBREL401A course on Establishing Networks. You’ll find a host of ideas for where you can find people to be part of your network, along with valuable information about how to best utilize those contacts.
Building a network isn’t actually something that starts or ends; it’s something that just is. You start building a network when you start forming relationships with other people, and you continue building that network until the end of your life. Some people may come and go from the center of your network, but they’re never really gone, unless you decide to never contact them again.
You can utilize whatever network you have to find information and people that you need. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for new clients, new suppliers or answers to your questions, someone in your network is likely to have just what you need; all you have to do is find who has it.
This comes about through talking to the people in your network. That means that you have to maintain contact with the people in your network, talking to them from time to time, so that you can swap ideas, needs and information.
Never assume that what your contacts are telling you is useless information. You never know what tomorrow may hold. The thing that seems useless today may be the key piece of information that you need to solve a problem tomorrow. Take all that information in, filing it in your mind, along with who you received it from. Then, if you need more detail, you know where to go to get it.
This article was published in Equipped, Fortress Learning’s free monthly magazine for success. You can subscribe to receive Equipped here