Professional NetworkingNetworking is the act of making a meaningful connection with a member of your community, another professional in your industry or related field, or a coworker within your organization, including members inside and outside of your team.  Once a connection is made, you can build these relationships by making an effort to keep in touch, asking if someone needs help on a project, inviting another member to lunch, or by finding a common interest or passion to discuss.  Networking is not just about who you know, but who knows you.

Why is networking important?

“By getting out there, you make yourself known and not just another name on a sheet of paper,” says Brad Karsh, President of JobBound, in his article, What Does ‘Networking’ Really Mean?  The more you make yourself known, the more likely it is that your name will come up when hiring managers discuss future job opportunities. It’s also a great way to help you move up or around within your current organization.  If management does not know who you are, how will they know you are a great asset to the team?

How do I network?

The best way to start networking is to find something in common! This will open the door for a great conversation.

When networking within your own organization, find mentors both on and off your team.  For example, if you are part of the Marketing Department, it might be useful to find a mentor in Marketing as well as a mentor in the Finance Department.  Because of the many ways these two departments overlap and interact, understanding another function will help you become more efficient at your job. Try volunteering to be a part of a project outside of your regular scope of work, or reaching out to your manager to let them know that you are looking for additional opportunities on cross-functional teams.

Some of the ways we promote networking here at HON include “Lunch and Learn” collaborative meetings, Leadership Roundtable discussions and weekly touch base meetings with managers.  Keep an eye out for any opportunity you have to build a relationship with another member in your organization!

Professional NetworkingBest Practices

From my own experience, here are a few networking tips to remember:

  1. Practice with family, friends, or strangers you meet outside of work. (They don’t have to know you’re practicing your networking skills!).
  2. Ask the individual questions to show your interest in getting to know him or her.
  3. Always thank the individual for his or her time, in person or with a thank you note.
  4. Smile! Show that you are having a good time creating this new connection.

Additional networking tips from Andrew Vest’s article, How to Network The Right Way: Eight Tips include networking before you need it, trying not to dismiss anyone as unimportant, generously helping others prior to needing something from them – give more than you receive, and build genuine relationships!

Most importantly, remember that networking isn’t over once you start the initial conversation; continue to stay in touch with these new connections!

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