Urban Dictionary defines networking as ‘a method for unskilled people to get hired for jobs over people who are skilled’. We weren’t exactly planning to go with this bold and somewhat flawed approach towards the topic, but we are suddenly feeling risqué and don’t mind exploring the possibility that networking is really the need of the hour for us millennials. Not to say that one doesn’t need to be skilled or have substance, but yes, the power of networking absolutely cannot be ignored in today’s scenario. We are connected 24×7 to our devices and by virtue of that alone, we ought to understand how to network to our advantage.
1. Entrepreneurship relies on networking
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When you set up your own company, you need to be ready to do a lot of things on your own at first. You need to be able to generate leads, get clients, ask people to take a chance on you, and basically get things down for as minimal a cost as possible. All of this is only possible if you learn how to network.
2. Networking isn’t just about schmoozing
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You need to know whom to talk to and how to talk to them. Networking, if done right, can ensure you reach the right place at the right time, and then take it from there.
3. Not everybody is born with an existing network
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This is both the good news and the bad news. Some people are simply born into affluent families with a lot of connections in the right places. This puts them in a position of power since a very young age and helps them propel their careers and personal agendas for the rest of their lives. The rest of us, though, have to build this network by ourselves. It’s tough, but not impossible.
4. You don’t have to be a certain ‘type’ to network
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Sure, it may come easier to an extrovert who loves going out and is constantly mingling with people. But here lies the beauty of social media, you can be in your pajamas on a Saturday night instead of the hottest bar in town and you can still be on the top of your social game. Networking requires you to connect with people but there are no rules about who you should be and how you should do it.
5. We are constantly networking in a way
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We are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Whatsapp throughout the day (and night, let’s be real) so we are pretty much accessible all the time. Even though these are our personal networks, potential employers, investors and old classmates are on these very same networks. It’s best not to forget that these very social media platforms are a goldmine for potential work opportunities.
6. It’s not wrong to put yourself out there
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Undertaken a new project? Made a job switch? Write about it. Update a status once in a while. The more secretive you are, the harder it is for you to network with people. It is about forming connections at the end of the day. If people won’t know what you’re up to, they will never think of you when they need to.
7. Networking isn’t a one-way street
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You can’t expect to only gain from it. For networking to truly become part of your life, you need to start by giving first. Did someone ask for a contact at your old firm? Connect them to the right people. Did someone want to reach out to you regarding a course you have knowledge about? Don’t avoid the conversation even though it may not exactly be exciting to you. The thing about networking is that you need to be open to help people and listen, truly listen, to them.
8. Keep your ego out of it
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Whom you choose to make a part of your personal life is a whole different matter. Networking is a professional skill, even though it may not always seem like it. Don’t get your ego into the picture. It won’t make you too big or small to connect with someone for it may potentially help your business or career in general.
9. Be accessible
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We’ve already established that we are all connected to the internet all the time. But there are small ways in which we can prove that we are accessible. Reply to texts, return phone calls, don’t ignore emails. And FYI, a seemingly insignificant but master move, is to never ignore a comment or DM on Instagram. We all know how well the medium is doing and that it’s a force to reckon with. Use that to your advantage; leave comments and reply to them too. It’ll make your networking game stronger than ever. (PS: We feel like some sort of modern day branding guru award is in store for us just for this brilliant tip alone!)
10. Learn the balancing act
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Be bold enough to talk to people about your career and/or goals but also know when to stop. You need to trust your instincts here. Are you at the kind of party where it would be impudent to bring up work? Or is everyone sort of mentioning what they do? You see, back in the day, there used to be strict rules about these things. But with us millennials, everything is turned on its head. Our work defines who we are and is such a huge part of our lives that it’s actually not the worst thing to talk about it at a social event. We say, as long as you balance it out, it’s all good.
11. Slow and steady
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If you haven’t been the kind who has ever networked, it will seem odd at first. Don’t worry about it. Start slow. You have to build upon it nice and easy and before you know it you’ll be networking like a pro.
12. Leave your comfort zone
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The whole point of networking is making new connections, right? So you have to start doing things differently. Go to events that you are invited to, instead of avoiding them like you really do (yup, we’ve all been there!). Talk to interesting people. Read things you wouldn’t have read earlier. It’s all part of the process. Oh, and did we mention? Say goodbye to your comfort zone!
13. Look beyond your career
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Networking can help you in any sphere of life. Humans, by nature, crave company. Maybe you’ll make new friends. Maybe you’ll discover a hidden talent. Maybe you’ll meet someone special. Who knows what can happen once you really give networking a chance? The possibilities are endless, and that’s honestly what makes networking a coveted skill worth possessing.
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