“Your network is the people who want to help you, and you want to help them, and that’s really powerful.” – Reid Hoffman (Co-Founder of LinkedIn)
At a very early age I was told again and again this fairly common cliché, ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’. Ever since, making connections and building strong working relationships has been a key skill I have tried to develop. Not only for myself, but for those around me – never missing an opportunity to recommend people, fair trade products or services to others.
Sometimes networking can be a daunting prospect. Enter a room of strangers (name badge on), introduce yourself, what you and your organisation do, scary stuff. It can also be quite time consuming. Fitting in ‘meet and greets’ is sometimes last on our list of priorities. But however you might feel about networking, it is a wonderful opportunity to give and receive assistance.
KnowHow NonProfit has an interesting approach to creating networking events and spotting opportunities (find out more here). While the method they use is quite scientific it gives some useful insight into a way of measuring effectiveness of networking communications.
The growth of social media has made networking with people a lot easier. LinkedIn, for example, is a great resource to stay connected with people you might meet at a conference, training session or event. But if you are not on LinkedIn, you can find free local networking events on Eventbrite. Relatively undiscovered social media platform Meetup allows users to form groups, organise events and share information, and is another great tool to keep connected.
For me, networking is all about supporting each other and we should use the resources and skills which we all have to actively give each other our support!
So, network, network, network. You never know who you might meet.