Networking: The essential skill of today
In an increasingly connected world, it is now more important than ever to network. Whether it is within the organization you’re working for or outside your workplace, networking is becoming an essential skill. Among the many reasons why you should develop this skill, following are a few that I have realized to be extremely important in my experience:
- To broaden your horizons by learning about new opportunities, career paths and skills sets
- To interact with people from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds
- To find unique and innovative ways of resolving challenges
- To stay in touch with latest market trends and technologies
- To be able to analyze and work on your strengths and weaknesses
- To get inspired and motivated by other people’s stories of successes and failures
- To get membership to a group or network and represent a cause close to your heart
- To have access to a platform through which you can mutually support each other professionally
If you’re a recently graduated student looking for employment or someone looking for a new role, you might have heard the word networking thrown at you. More often than not people don’t know what it means or don’t know how to go about it.
What does Networking mean?
Put into simple words, networking is idea and information sharing between professionals or individuals. These professionals or individuals might belong to the same field or have same interests or might come together due to some other commonality.
How to Network?
Now that we have the definition out of the way, the question is how can you go about networking with people? Whether you categorize yourself as an extrovert or an introvert, in the beginning it can a daunting task to reach out to people with the sole purpose of networking. A good place to practice your networking skills is your workplace. Work events and town halls are a good opportunity to meet your colleagues. You can start by interacting with people within your department and gradually extend your circle across different departments. You might be wondering at this point how this could possibly benefit you. Often a task or project requires cross functional coordination. If such a challenge arises, you can depend on your network and rope in resources from external departments to ensure timely completion of tasks. In addition to this, constructive interactions with people from varying fields can help you develop a diverse skill set.
Networking does not have to be restricted to the organization you work for. The benefits increase two folds when you start meeting and interacting with professionals outside of your workplace, learning about new ideas and opportunities and getting a fresh perspective. One way to go about it is by reaching out to people in your field or area of interest through professional platforms like LinkedIn. For instance, if you’re applying for a role it might help to reach out to someone in the organization who currently holds the position of your interest or works in a similar department to get insights on responsibilities and requirements, aiding your research before making your final decision. Another way is to identify what need you want to address by joining a network. This will help you narrow your search for the right fit for you. When I joined Like Minded Female network, I felt lost in my career and was seeking direction. While there were many mentoring programs under several networks that could address it but a network by women for women was the best option for me as it would help me address the challenges I was facing as a women engineer, equip me with skills needed to pivot my career and excel in my area of interest and connect me with exceptional women who are achieving and overcoming challenges on the daily that would serve as an inspiration and a motivation. Joining the network would also provide me access to a platform through which I could support other women, something I felt passionately about. So, once you have clarity about what you want to achieve out of your membership to a network, you will be able to find the one that works for you.
Is it too late for me to network?
Its never too late to learn any skill including networking. Just because you haven’t done it up till now doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to start. You can follow your own pace and choose the network of your choice to fulfill the need you have identified. One important thing to note here is that networking for the sake of doing it will not serve any purpose and you will end up wasting your time and energy. In today’s hustle culture, it is natural to often get carried away and adopt lifestyles and habits that don’t come to us naturally or don’t fit in our circumstances. Don’t feel the pressure to network because you heard your colleague boasting about being invited as a guest speaker at their network. Do what feels right to you and when it feels right. As long as you have a clear intent and purpose, you are on the right track.
This blog contribution was made by Aleena Ahmad.
Aleena is a graduate in Electrical Engineering and currently working as a Market Analyst. She loves to read books; is obsessed with political non-fiction, finds baking therapeutic, and likes to start her day with yoga. Aleena believes writing is the best way to articulate one’s thoughts and start a conversation. She feels passionately about women empowerment initiatives and is always looking for opportunities to contribute.
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What is LMF Network?
The LMF Network is a global social enterprise (not for profit) focused on empowering, enabling & educating women and marginalised groups into tech, entrepreneurship & digital. We specialise in designing and delivering accessible programmes and supporting a global community. We’ve gone from a brunch club to a social good brand based on what the community wanted. We are a real community run by real people.