Guest post by Georgina Stewart
We all have a sizeable personal network, which can be made up of family, friends, neighbours, ex-work colleagues, or fresh acquaintances. While, in terms of a successful application, networking will often play a vital role. If an employer is uncertain about employing you, then a ringing endorsement from someone in your network can be the decisive factor. "It's not what you know, but who you know" is a general truth for a reason. It often happens to be true.
Networking has always been important. In the age of social media it's also possible to build up contacts extremely quickly, but, in terms of furthering your career, it's not about the quantity, but the quality of your contacts.
How Networking Can Further Your Career
Who you know, and their level of influence, can have a massive impact on your career. For instance, if you are as good at your job as a colleague, but they have better connections, then they can have an advantage in several ways. Within a company people may comment favourably on their abilities, and if their network also consists of people outside of the company then they can exploit better opportunities.
Not every good job is advertised, and one way you can find out about an opportunity is through good networking. If you're on good terms with people in your network, then they can also think it's in THEIR interests that you apply for a specific job, because they will want to work with someone they know, like and trust.
Be Generous To People In Your Network
Networks can be built both online and offline, through face to face meetings, telephone conversations, social media and email. Always remember to be generous with people in your network, as they won't be so inclined to help you if you're not. For everyone in a network there should be a willingness to offer mutual support, advice and information. You can also help others, thanks to the knowledge you have acquired via your network.
Create a Plan
Firstly devise a plan, then start building your contacts. Next, organise your network. One way of doing this is to create specific groups through an email program (the groups should be for contacts not linked to your existing job). You should then arrange how often you intend to contact particular individuals. Once your network plan has been created, your network and plan should be updated a minimum of once a year.
Networking should always be a continual process. Contacts should be added throughout your working life. Set targets regarding your network, aim at how you can reach your goals, and don't be afraid to change things if they're not working as well as you would like.
You should display tact concerning the people in your network, respect them, and don't take them for granted. If you intend to use a contact's name in connection with a job, ensure that you have their permission to do so. Be reliable and appreciative, and never pester people at times that may be convenient for you, but not for them, such as very early in the morning or very late at night. Once you've found a good contact the last thing you want is to then make them regret networking with you in the first place.
Author: Georgina Stewart is an important member of the team at Marble Hill Partners and spends a lot of her time focused on how she can encourage others to fulfil their potential as both executives and leaders.