"The Complete Guide to Professional Networking” guides you through the correct processes to follow when seeking to build and maintain a strong professional network.
By virtue of the fact that I am, by nature, a quiet and private person, I will freely acknowledge that when it comes to networking, I am not the best at it, although I do make an effort!
“The Complete Guide to Professional Networking: The Secrets of Online and Offline Success” by Simon Phillips (@1simonphillips), and illustrated by Simon Ellinas, is directed towards anyone who wants to understand the true value of networking, and the variety of methods to build a strong network.
As the majority working in a business will already understand, there is much business to be gained from referrals and recommendations, and networking is an effective method to attain these. Yet, as the author explains, many people are ineffective when it comes to networking due to a lack of understanding of the process.
“The most successful networks are ones in which all of the networkers seek to give, support and help others with no thought of reciprocity. The least successful networkers are those that seek only to gain from their networks.”
In “The Complete Guide to Professional Networking,” Phillips starts by defining what networking is, and the need to determine how big your network should be. He goes on to describe the different styles of networking based on your own personality, and the different types of networking that can be carried out.
Having outlined the types of networking, he details the pros and cons of closed networking, selective networking, open network, and hybrid networking. More importantly, through quoting Tessa Hood, he underlines the need to choose an appropriate network for your business:
“Have you chosen the most appropriate group to join? Look carefully at the members of a network and ensure that you’re not wasting your time. Small local groups may be fine if you are a florist, cake-maker, solicitor, plumber, accountant, estate agent, or local health club, but if your market (or job) is in multi-national organizations, City businesses, or similar, ensure that you are networking with the right peer group. You can waste an awful lot of time trying to develop relationships with small organizations, when you (or your business) are completely outside their sphere.”
In the same way that some people believe that by simply having a Facebook page or a blog their business will improve, there are also people who think that creating a business network means attending any event and handing out as many business cards as possible.
This, explains the author, is one of the common mistakes people make when trying to network:
“… experts agree that their pet hate are people who thrust business cards into their hands before they have established rapport …”
In “The Complete Guide to Professional Networking” Phillips specifies the need to picture your perfect connection, and to use a five step plan when looking to connect.
The formulation of a successful relationship requires the identification of the ideal connection, meeting with them, building trust, and offering help and support. Only then can you yourself hope to receive help, referrals and recommendations.
One only needs to read the BNI philosophy, “Givers Gain,” and to see how successful a network that is for the proof that this principal actually works.
Moving on to the use of social media for networking purposes, the author discusses the various platforms and how they can be used to build and sustain a strong network. On these platforms, suggests Phillips, it is necessary to be clear, consistent and to show that you care. It is through doing this that will help to build trust in your relationships.
Joining groups on LinkedIn and Facebook is recommended as is keeping a networking scorecard. Although a network may not always open up opportunities for doing business today, they can pay off in a variety of ways in the future.
With figures showing that the average number of jobs a person will have throughout their working life standing at 11, by having a strong and diverse network will accord you with future opportunities.
I have to say that I enjoyed and found interesting the authors views and ideas when dealing with the subject of networking in person in “The Complete Guide to Professional Networking.” It is quite apparent that the author has the experience and the ability to pass on the skills required to do this well.
While it is justifiable to include the use of the various social media tools to manage and remain in contact with those with whom you have networked, I found the content here to be a little thin and simplistic.
About the Author
Simon Phillips began his career at Andersen Consulting working in their Change Management division. Since then, through his company Simesco, he has gone on to become an author, trainer, and coach, teaching people how to network. He has worked with well known companies such as Lloyds TSB, O2 and Accenture. For more information you can visit his website.