Breaking down this tricky concept with some easy ideas
Networking: What Is It?
One of the hottest tips you’ll hear when you’re trying to advance at work is that you should be networking. It’s a vague bit of advice at best, and there are definitely “networks” to avoid if you want to help yourself. Basically, networking boils down to meeting people with similar interests and career trajectories. It means introducing yourself to people both at your level and those above you so you can pick up helpful career advice and have a good support network around you.
How Do You Do It?
Walking up and introducing yourself to someone can be an intimidating prospect, particularly if you’re at an event with plenty of people in your field. One of the best pieces of advice to follow is know who you want to network with. If there’s someone in your field who you admire and you’ll get the opportunity to engage with them at an event, prepare the questions you want to ask, the conversation you want to have, and the angle you want to take, so you’re not put on the spot when you first meet them.
Having a network of people at the same level as you is also ideal; it lends itself to collaborative efforts in your field, and gives you a support network of people who are going through similar trials as you might be at work. Advancing in your career isn’t all about competition, but also about holding each other up for deserved opportunities. Keep on good terms with your colleagues rather than seeing them strictly as your direct competitors.
Don’t close yourself off to networking outside your job, either — having a varied network (like community members, school alumni, and friends) leads to varied opportunities.