Networking and career success go hand-in-hand. Yet getting the most out of your network is not as simple as it sounds. Here are several keys to help you open new doors.
Identify your network
For more in-depth information, consult the French study by the Apec (French organization for the recruitment of managers):
Le réseau personnel : quelles contributions à la carrière du cadre
The first step is to understand your network. "It's all about knowing who you can call on to advance your career. Don't confuse your network with tools such as LinkedIn, Viadeo, or Facebook, even if such tools are very useful." explains Barthélemy Chollet, a professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
Maintain your network
Want to be remembered? Then be useful
The best networkers don't just know how to develop new contacts. They know how to care for old contacts by feeding their network throughout their professional career. "A network becomes meaningful when professionals know how to communicate useful information. You must always be on the lookout for scoops that might interest your contacts." adds Barthélemy Chollet.
Take action in your company
- Network with your managers.
- Use cross-functional projects such as the organization of company events to link up with managers in other departments.
Take action outside your company
- Keep up contact with former managers as they can offer new opportunities for advancement.
- Integrate your contacts into your social networks.
- Feed your social networks with pertinent information.
The big picture
Everybody is a potential network contact. Managers with the best networks keep in touch with people before they even know if a contact will be useful. You have to see your network as a vast well of untapped options, some of them unexpected.
The five key advantages to networking
- Political support: being promoted, accessing information, being offered projects, being initiated to internal politics, etc.
- Career support: discussing and evaluating career options, coaching, professional feedback, etc.
- Making connections: meeting key figures, being recommended, discovering new opportunities, etc.
- Social support: encouragement, recognition, personal feedback, etc.
- Inspiration: having a role-model to help with career choices.