Networking Tips

I think everyone will tell you that professional networking is important, but I think few can cogently explain why. The basic reason from a manager’s perspective is, in my opinion, that you simply need other people to do anything of significance in life. You need a strong network of people with diverse skills above you, around you, and below you to help you build your projects and programs. Otherwise, who or what are you going to manage?

So here’s some tips to help you out:

For those above you. For leaders that you aspire to emulate, here is a great way to start a conversation and potentially add them to your professional network. Ask them, “What is your secret to success?,” and then sit back and listen to them talk. For me, it’s been a great conversation starter and a means to learn valuable insights as well.

For those around you. Find a common social interest. Strangely enough, I often find that talking about professional activities doesn’t work as well with my peers as it does with senior leaders. It’s important of course, so still talk about it, but I tend to get better results with my peers when I discuss non-work topics. My two go-to topics are: sports, and dating. My peers never seem to get tired of hearing dating stories. Maybe it’s just me. (My stories aren’t particularly entertaining, so I tend to collect stories I hear and share them — anonymously, of course.)

For those below you. Teach them something. This does not work well in my experience with either peers or senior leaders, but it works very well with lower level employees. They crave the knowledge you have, so if you go out of your way to share it, they appreciate it. But be careful — some of those below you may be more skilled or *gasp* even smarter than you. For them, the best approach is just to listen. You do that, and you may just have recruited your next star protege.

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Dick Davies

How about the purpose of networking is to increase your options to solve problems you come across?

I’m always looking for competent help and advice.

Elizabeth Fischer Laurie

For me the purpose of networking is also to help me solve problems but even more specifically it is a way for me to help organize my own thoughts and ideas, as hearing them from other people can provide much needed perspective on problems and issues.