How can you develop your personal networks to support your existing and future work aspirations?
You may have a negative view of networking and you may not be comfortable with self-promotion and requesting things of people you don’t know so well. I will try to help turn that view around to support your development.
It is often said that the un-advertised job market is the largest job market and it is in fact who you know and not what you know. We may not like it, but there’s more than an element of truth in both parts of the preceding statement. With this in mind, let’s see if we can get you on the path to developing a personal network.
Take a look around you; your personal networks will often include people in your own place of work, people you engage with from other organisations and people you may be in contact with over the telephone and by email. At a more social level, this will include friends and family but we’re going to look at networks to support your professional growth.
Networking is about selling yourself (not literally!) and the key to developing personal networks is reciprocity. In other words, exchanging things with others e.g. information for mutual benefit. Like you, people will only want to network if there is something in it for them. A good personal network will support and sustain you in your professional life.
Networking is often an under-developed skill as people don’t tend to like self-promotion and often find it hard to do that without sounding like the proverbial ‘used car salesman’. The very idea of networking fills some people with dread, causes anxiety with a few and even terror with some.
To be able to develop networks effectively, the following skills need to be applied. These are not in order of priority and the list in not exhaustive but you do need to develop this skill-set.
- Information management
- Time management
Let’s have a quick look at the behaviours that you will have to display to underpin the development and management of your personal networks. The PUSH model is one that I have developed specifically to help individuals to understand the four key stages in the development of their personal networks.
Pitch your personal networks
- You clarify your own and other’s expectations of any relationship
- You model behaviour that shows respect, helpfulness and co-operation
Use your personal networks
- You identify and work with people and organisations that can provide support for your work
- You keep promises and honour commitments
- You consider the impact of your own actions on others
Share your personal networks
- You encourage others to share information and knowledge
- You work towards an atmosphere of professionalism and mutual support
Harvest your personal networks
- You reflect on your own experiences and use these to inform future actions
If you are able to successfully apply the skills and behaviours needed, then you can expect the following three outcomes just for starters.
1. Networks of contacts which are appropriate to meet your current and future needs for information and resources
2. Key members of your personal networks who will have an accurate professional picture of you and will be aware of the benefits of networking with you
3. Regular introductions to people and organisations with common interests.
Don’t forget, networks need to be maintained. Make the effort and you will be rewarded. I’ll end with some very simple advice. Estate Agents like to use ‘location, location, location’ and for very good reason. If you were my coaching client; my advice would be a resounding ‘network, network, network’.
Mahmood Noman is a chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Member since: 29th January 2012
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Been in business in Carlisle for around 20 years (former Managing Director of Jack Wolfskin Ltd.), and a keen believer...