What is networking biggest mistake? We all know it . We all want to do it...later. Networking is THE way for professional success. More than great monthly reports, exceptional achievements, annual bonus, special distinction, awards etc. These things CONTRIBUTE to your network. But the active network beats all of the above. Yes we are part of this network to share. Although the emphasis SEEMS to be on the taking part of the deal, the other part is just as important, it is "Giving"!
Most people will join a network to get help. Help in finding solutions to a problem ( the communities of practice are great for that ), help in finding kindred spirits, help in finding someone who knows someone who might help and help in finding a new job. Ouch! That last one hurts. Joining a network with a very clear intention to GET something out of it quickly is bad. In fact, it may even emanate from you. Really ! You can just smell these people. Sure, any personal or professional network has a few of them. Just make sure YOU are not of of those.
The job hunter who joins a network to get a job WHEN he needs it does not understand the network dynamic. The key word here is SLOW. Slow as in slowly growing the way tree grows : with deep roots. This cannot be rushed. Networking is really like growing a tree. You first need to sow, carefully selecting the soil and the seed. That is , do not join any network just to BE in a network. Choose the right network. Then, be yourself. What you project is important but if this image is false it will backfire on you. Be honest, be open, be yourself. Once the seed in the right soil, pamper it ! Water it ! Fertilize it ! This takes time AND effort. It is good for YOU and your EMPLOYER ! The benefits far outweigh the amount of time off work...eventually. Remember the chinese bamboo. The young shoot stays invisible 5 years! It must be taken care of all that time. On the fifth year it sprout off 80 feet in the air! So is a network.
Chicken Soup for your Soul Lessons in Life :
1- A network for the fun a meeting new people... and make true friends.
2- A network to share stories, tips and tricks.
3- A network to learn.
4- A network to find help, unexpectedly, surprisingly.
5- A network to find a job ...when someone will offer you one!