Networking is “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” Notice that it isn’t something that happens solely at ‘networking functions’ or even something that happens just with people that don’t work at your company. Networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships that make life easy and more productive for both parties, even with others in your company.
Redefine your perception of Networking
My good friend Mark has an old computer and as a result he often places requests in to his IT department for service. The problem is that every time he calls they come and do yet another ‘quick fix’ that never fully eliminates his computer problems. When Mark first started working at his company 3 years ago the IT department tried to be helpful, but after three years of constant calls, the IT staff is no longer motivated to help Mark. While the IT department has to provide a minimum level of service, (quick fixes) they, like most IT departments, regularly face a lack of time and resources, meaning that their best service is reserved for their best customers.
Solving the IT problem
What would happen if Mark started helping the IT department? Instead of complaining he started cleaning up his server space, stopped installing programs from the Internet, supported them in meetings, respected their time, took them out to lunch, thanked them when they helped him, and generally did everything he could to help them out. Just as it does with others outside your company, this type of action creates the foundation for a mutually beneficial relationship, and in this case, probably a new computer.
Successful Business Relationships include Networking
Mark’s problem is the same as faced by thousands of others every day. It might be your accounting department, marketing department, coworkers, or administrative staff, but in each case it is usually a relationship problem.
Think about your relationships around the office; are people quick to help you succeed because you are always helping them succeed? If not, try the proven method to build a relationship: put yourself and your needs aside and simply focus on helping the other person, you’ll be amazed at how they want to help you in return.