Business Wrap

How to master the art of networking (whether you like doing it or not)

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Do you want to build a network of useful contacts in order to kick-start your career? Are you aware of the crucial importance of networking, but lack the know-how to get started? We all have a different way of dealing with different people in different situations which sometimes might not work.

Networking is important; you must be smart about it. No one wants to be a pain in the butt and have people run away from them. The business of networking is not about manipulation; it’s about creating relationships.

Effective networking is always mutually beneficial

“I think business has evolved to the point where networking is about mutually beneficial relationships. Schmoozing just doesn't cut it,” says The Networking Company CEO Helen Nicholson.

The best networkers are increasingly generous; they always have something to give. They never simply expect to get something and they never take without giving something in return. “One of the characteristics of the best networkers that I know is that they are incredibly generous,” says Nicholson. “Upon meeting people they share contacts, point people in the correct direction and connect them to the right people. They deposit huge relationship capital wherever they go.”

Networking doesn’t always have to be 50/50. What matters is that both parties benefit from the relationship. “Networking is about building relationships with no obvious agenda,” says Nicholson.

The core principle of networking

When it comes to building relationships treat everybody as equals and respect everyone you have an encounter with. That’s the core principle of networking.

“The power of your network is in its diversity,” says Nicholson. “It’s not a powerful network if it comprises of people who are the same color as you, the same age as you, in the same industry and the same gender as you. That’s why people who are able to have relationships with security guards and CEOs - people very different to them - are the ones who have powerful networks."

Article by Sithandwa Ngwetsheni and Kabous le Roux.

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