13 May 2016

5 truths about networking

5 truths about networking

A professional network is like a gym membership card lying in your drawer at home: It has no value until you actually put it to use and give your network muscles a workout. Here are five valuable truths about the art of networking.

#1: Less participation = less benefit

When you joined a network, your idea was to develop professionally and to improve your networking skills. You probably thought that a professional network was a good place to start, because there is a Chair to take care of all the practical details and to facilitate the knowledge sharing. Then you were probably snowed under by 1,000 different tasks and were unable to take part in a couple of meetings.

The truth is that, if you do not participate, the benefits are significantly less. It gets harder to build up the relationships that are needed for openness and confidentiality at the meetings. Most importantly, it becomes less natural to get in touch with the other people between meetings.

#2: Being busy is not (always) an excuse

Your first year in a peer group is key. As a novice networker, it is important not to miss too many meetings. Preferably, you should not miss any at all.

Of course there can be matters of the utmost urgency that may justify a cancellation. But when it comes to simply “being busy”, remember what you wanted to achieve by joining, rather than merely looking at your calendar.

Especially in the beginning, entering your network meetings in your calendar requires resolute prioritisation. Later you can more easily miss out on a meeting or two, but your network colleagues will always notice your absence.

#3: It takes time to create value

To get value out of your network, you need to create relationships – and that takes time. This means the 4-6 hours you need to allocate for attending a network meeting. But it also means time in the longer term, because you will not necessarily create close relationships in the first year.

Read also: Network is the new employee capital

Even meeting every second or third month leads to strong, long-term relationships. After a few years, you will discover that you have a number of people you can automatically call, because you have a relationship with them.

A network is a bit like a party, where the really profound conversations do not take place until late into the evening. But you cannot just skip the dinner and think you can immediately start having fun. 

#4: You win more time than you invest

Frequently members come to a network meeting and, the moment they are through the door, they say: “I actually don’t have the time to be here!” Then, as they’re leaving, they say: “I’m so glad I came.” 

No matter how busy they are, people who make a point of attending meetings get an awful lot to take home. Because it is precisely when you are at your busiest that you have the greatest need for your professional network. To get specific feedback on the challenges you are facing here and now, or just to get a helicopter perspective on your professional life.

At a network meeting, you receive free, impartial advice from 'peer consultants' to help you progress. So the hours you spend at a meeting are soon rewarded with better solutions.

#5: We need your experience

The Chairman of your EGN Group helps establishing an environment of trust and professional relationships, so that network meetings create the most value for you. We can do everything for you with the exception of attending meetings. That is your job.

On the other hand, you do not need to prepare for a meeting. All you have to do is bring your eperiences along. Your network group has been put together in a way that guarantees you will have something to contribute. You will also definitely leave with something – simply as a result of your active participation. So, if you want to network, but do not think you are very good at it, just allocate the time and attend the meetings. You will be served everything on a silver platter.

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