1. Anyone can network well. Some people are good at making lots of connections, however, effective networking is about creating quality relationships with people you can count on to collaborate with you developing all kinds of opportunities for each other throughout the course of your professional career.
2. Women and men network the same way. Men tend to focus on opportunities that come out of networking relationships while women tend to focus more on the relationships. Actually men can learn from women and women from men, how to bring these two skills together to create better opportunities faster.
3. Networking is just “partying” in a business environment. Networking opportunities often coincide with social activities in a business setting. Do not take advantage of readily available food and drink by over-indulging in either.
4. Networking does not come naturally to most people. What comes naturally for some, but not many, is the ability to meet and converse with almost anyone. Effective networking, however, goes beyond the ability to “connect” with others. It takes strategic ability to discern what opportunities will be best for each person with whom you network. Every key relationship you choose to develop takes strategizing to determine when, how and what you will focus on to leverage each other’s opportunities.
5. Networking is also called the “Old Boys’ Network.” While the “Old Boys’ Networks” utilize many effective net working techniques to get what they want, they are not the embodiment of networking. Networking in its purest form does not involve exclusivity, elitism or secrecy.
6. You can go to a networking event, meet someone and make something happen in a few minutes. Great opportunities can evolve within minutes of an initial networking meeting; however, you cannot force it to happen. You can use meetings to meet great people, but you can’t force something to happen. Networking in the ’80s and ’90s was often focused on doing business or pushing for career connections without first creating connection. Good networkers know that they must first make a connection, then build the relationship,
and then explore opportunities for themselves and their partners.
7. Networking is one-dimensional. Effective networking is holistic. It requires us to look at the human being behind the title. Meeting influential people is first about knowing what matters to that person and then, sharing with them how what matters to you complements what matters to him or her. This connection starts a “joint” conversation as to how you can support each other’s goals.
8. Good networkers are extroverted. Many good networkers are introverted. They don’t enjoy going out to meetings but they do it anyway, deciding that they would rather meet one or two people they can build strong relationships with than not make connections. They realize that growing their careers requires them to build relationships with diverse types of people with whom they can share support for growing successful.
9. Networking is a numbers game. Networking is first and foremost a quality game. It is important to be prepared. Success happens “when preparation meets opportunity” by knowing what your goals and dreams are and sharing them clearly with the right people. Look for people who are natural networkers whom you admire. They are out there. If you don’t know of any, ask a trusted friend for his or her suggestion. Be on the lookout through the web for leaders you admire. Know who these people are. Find out what matters to them. Develop relationships with them by identifying those things they care about that also matters to you. Now you have a springboard to a quality relationship that can last a lifetime, building opportunities for you and those in your network.
Special thanks to Dan Limbach for his contributions. Note: this piece was written almost 10 years ago. How much has really changed?