We speak much about networking these days with some confusion about what defines networking. Though I do attend one networking group every month – my Christian Business Leaders breakfast – I don’t think running to networking events is the solution or what I mean by networking. Though I am a proponent of using social media for networking, I don’t think just signing up for all the social media you can find is what I mean by networking either. Though I belong to the Chamber of Commerce, I don’t see that as the solution for networking.
What is a valuable network?
I think all of those things can create a valuable network but not in the way most people think. To me, networking is about building relationships. The effective way to build most relationships is to come together regularly. I have been attending my Christian Business Leaders group since April 2008.
At first, the 7:15am meeting was hard for me to try but because this group is very different from the normal networking group, it grew on me. We meet to discuss business principles from a Christian perspective. There are people who show up every month and there are others who attend infrequently. Most of us intermesh in other places and other organizations and even are connected by social media outside of our meetings.
What is an effective network?
The difference with this group, which does fit a definition of a networking group, is that there are relationships that have extended beyond the meeting. The key to successful networking is relationships. I can and have called on one or more of the members of the group to help me with problems or help me with resources. When you build an effective network, you can use it.
5 questions to ask to determine if your network is effective
1. Would you be willing to help a member of your network?
2. Would you feel comfortable calling to ask them for help?
3. Are you willing to recommend the services of the member of your network?
4. Do you value their advice?
5. Do they value your advice?
Networking must be seen as a relationship and relationships need to be nurtured to grow. An effective network will help you throughout your life but only if you nurture it by giving as much as you take from it. A job seeker with an effective network will land faster, be more successful in his career, and be positioned for success when things change.