Networking is a fascinating term. What is it exactly? The standard definition you’ll hear is attending events and building relationships that can be utilized for business purposes.
Some argue that networking is done at all times, that you’re always “on,” representing yourself and your personal brand.
Personally, I don’t like the idea of planned networking. Treating a networking event as work, with a goal to use people at the event for specific purposes doesn’t seem authentic.
I believe that instead of treating a networking event as accomplishing a goal, the focus should be on building relationships. When meeting a new individual, instead of thinking about how they can help you with a business deal, you should be focused on getting to know that individual, and worry about your goals later.
This can be very difficult when presented with a networking opportunity as a student or upcoming grad. The focus can very easily be on “how can I convince this person to hire me?” When in fact that focus should be on “how can I get to know this person more?”
By focusing on the relationship as opposed to the benefits, you’re more likely to learn more regarding the personality and work ethic of the individual.
It’s important to remember that networking is just a term. It’s easy to think of it as just another job or task to complete, but it is an integral part of advancing in any profession.
I once sat in a networking session at a PRSSA conference and heard from professionals speaking about networking.
The biggest tip I learned was to be genuine, in your goals, your ethics, and in building your relationships.
By being genuine in your relationship building, you will show others why you deserve what your goals are and what you’re hoping to get.