Careers have significantly evolved, and in the present age with the heavy integration of the internet into almost all aspects of the professional domain, the world has become a much smaller place.
In this age, there is one key factor which separates a superlative career from a mediocre one, and that is networking.
What is professional Networking?
Your network determines your net worth.
Networking is a deliberate activity to build, reinforce and maintain relationships of trust with other people to further one’s goals. Professional and career networking is basically setting up a network which widely allows you to improve and further your career goals.
This is a two-way street which involves trade and exchange of ideas as well as building relationships over time. It is an open secret that individuals who have had successful careers, also possess a very strong professional network across various channels which have taken a lot of time, effort and resources to build.
A strong network will help create and improve relationships with knowledgeable and insightful people relevant to one’s career. This will help by opening a two-way street for exchange of ideas and information. However, it is also imperative that a person only networks with ‘good’ contacts as there are many people who are looking to take undue advantage and not return favors.
A ‘good’ contact is someone:
with genuine intentions, who wants to build a long-lasting professional relationship with you.
They look at long-term value, rather than short-term benefits.
Good contacts are open to constructive decisions and answering questions about their area of expertise.
They are willing to lend a hand when in need, unlike questionable contacts who only seek out favours from others, and do not help others in return.
The best ways to find good contacts are at industry-specific conferences, and platforms like LinkedIn, where one can assess the credibility of a connection.
A contact who does not have good intentions in mind might connect with you only to seek out favours, such as asking you to refer them for a vacancy in your company, using you to reach out to someone else in your network, or trying to acquire your professional services for free. In some unfortunate cases, people have been known to extort money from others on the pretext of getting them a job.
Here are a few points on how to differentiate genuine contacts from selfish ones-
A genuine contact will have clear and recognized credibility and will not be afraid to talk about it. If a contact has dubious credibility or shies away when you broach the topic, it’s a major red flag which one should not ignore.
Genuine contacts will always offer help and advice when you ask them, and at times will ask help for themselves. A red flag that shouldn’t be ignored is when a contact continuously asks for help, doesn’t return any favours, and only talks about their own needs.
Genuine contacts will be interested in your future aims and goals. Questionable contacts will only be interested in the present and wouldn’t want to hear about your long-term goals and ambitions.
Good contacts will always back up their claims with successful results.
Interesting read : Is it a good time to move to Germany for a job?
What are a few key Dos and Don'ts with respect to professional networks?
Here are a few Dos and Don’ts with respect to building a strong and long-lasting professional network:
Listen more and speak less. This allows you to absorb more knowledge and information, rather than speaking incessantly. Additionally, people do not take it kindly if you keep interrupting them while they are speaking.
Ask genuine questions. It shows a potential connection how interested you are in a topic and how you want to grow your mindset about it. Asking well thought-out and intelligent questions shows your level of preparation and ownership, even in basic interactions.
In the early network building stages, try to help your connections out whenever possible, rather than seeking assistance. This helps in building a relationship and shows the other person that one isn't using him to further their short-term goals
One must always make it a habit of following up with their connections over text or email. If you have a social media presence, be generous in recognizing the efforts of those in your network. Spread positive messages of gratitude and appreciation. Another important habit is to always update your connection and thank them for their help and support. These things make the other person feel valued and important.
Do not dismiss major red flags, such as people who are self-centered, bitter, constantly complaining, and all talk but no action. Such people will not help you succeed, and one must be careful while interacting with them.
Do not make or add contacts to your professional network just for short term benefits as this will often lead to people feeling used which in turn may lead to the tarnishing of one’s name in professional circles.
One must never exploit their network or constantly depend on his network for favours. Never take people for granted, especially if someone was introduced to you by another connection in your network.
One must never neglect their network. Look after your network by regularly communicating with them, helping others out, and host informal discussions with your contacts.
To conclude this section, building a strong, diverse and cross-platform professional network helps you unlock areas in the professional aspect which one could never hope to reach without fostering meaningful relationships.
It always helps to have a mentor, who has worked and lived in Germany for some of the best brands. For personal consultation with Arun Mahajan, book a time with him.