The essence of networking in private practice, formal employment

By Victor Ochieng’

Networking, also known as self-marketing or social-marketing, entails circulating in business functions on a social level to create a wonderful web of useful connections.

The basic philosophy of networking is ‘living is giving’. The heartbeat of networking is people caring about each other. As Theodore Roosevelt put it aptly, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’. 

Networking focuses on others – giving, sharing and caring. It is mutual and symbiotic.

 Ideally, networking is not pushing yourself or forcing people to accept your ideas, products, goods, even services. It is not exploiting people for purposes of personal gain. It is not keeping your eye on everyone you meet with a selfish motive to benefit in future.

Networking has several definitions. It is the practice of meeting other people involved in the same kind of work you do so as to share information or to support each other.

Networking is about making friends. Some of the people you meet along the way – in school, college, world of work, functions – can be of great help to you in some sense. For anyone you may want to meet or contact is only four to six people away from you.

Build personal network

In the Careerpedia penned by Muthoni Muchemi and published by Story Moja, people are advised on how to create networks: start building your network while still in school. Meet, greet, interact and connect with people.

Do not fear rejection. Start animated conversations. Take a keen interest in topical issues about the career or industry you are in. Make people who are around you feel important. Make wise use of social media. Network is net worth.

10 Commandments of networking

In his well-worded book titled How to Win Your Dream Career: A Self-help Guide to Successful Job-hunting, N.A. Salemi talks about the 10 Commandments of Networking: One, drop the ‘what-is-in-it-for-me?’ attitude.

Two, purpose to network at all time. Three, feed the relationship instead of leeching on it. Four, always carry the networking tools. Five, listen and ask quality questions.

Six, give referrals when possible. Seven, follow up on the referrals within 24 hours. Eight, thank, in writing, the person who gives you referrals. Nine, set networking goals in writing. Ten, reply to emails and respond to missed calls the same day.     

Networking etiquette

In order to access success in your networks, you must love and cherish courtesy. When you are with people, be careful not to eat, drink and talk at the same time. Avoid complaining and blame games.

Politely ask for someone’s cards in case you wish to keep in touch with them. Always carry beautiful business cards but do not be in a hurry to dish them out.

Synergy is the strategy

Dr Stephen R. Covey – in his book titled the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People -posits: Highly effective and successful people are neither dependent nor independent. In fact, they are inter-dependent in nature.

They are not islands or leeches. They are like colonies where members interact with each other freely without restraint. They support, integrate and coordinate with each other.

Synergy is the name of the game. Synergy is their strategy. For anyone to survive and thrive in the job market and private practice, one must know how to work in harmony with family, friends, friends of friends, colleagues and clients among others.

Avenues of networking

Avenues to help you network are umpteen like stars in the sky and like sand at the sea shore. You can network in conferences, church, school, events, when traveling, in social gatherings – the list is long. You can also bank on referrals.

Networking tools

Always have the following networking tools: wear a mile-wide smile; be ready with your business cards; have scintillating topics of conversation; have precise self-introduction; have goals and objectives and make significant telephone calls.

What’s more, cordially invite people to useful events; learn to appreciate and acknowledge others; have an attitude of gratitude; be sympathetic and empathetic; express love and largesse; give occasional voluntary services, learn to give back to the society and, have a pleasant personality.   

The 7 P’s of networking

One is people, writes Pepe Minambo in his best-selling book titled Go Beyond Limits. It is about people, people, people. Two things define you: the books you read and the people you meet.

Two, passion. To succeed in networking, you must be passionate about what you do. Three, keep on promoting yourself, your ideas, products, goods and services.

Marketing is not done just in a day. Consistency is key. Keep telling people you exist.

Four, power. Powerful networking is all about results and relationships – effectiveness and efficiency; assertiveness and graciousness; patience and persistence. It is all about building business and building bridges. Living and giving. Receiving and caring. Trusting and requesting.

Five, planning. Mark your calendar. Develop your purpose. Failure to plan is planning to fail.

Six is preparation. Prepare scintillating stories to talk about. Be updated. Read at least one newspaper each day. Read newsletters, magazines, professional journals, periodicals and books.

Employ mature sense of humour. Most people enjoy humour that is timely and comely.

Seven is participation. Enter the room with a graceful gait, head held high. Check on your poise and posture. Manifest a positive attitude. Stand out, stand tall. In his book titled Become Your Excellency, Joseph Obwanda says: In this world, stand. When the world stands, stand out. When the world stands out, outstand.

Reasons why some people don’t network

Lastly, there are countless reasons why some people choose not to network. These include fear of rejection; the fear of being perceived to be weak, needy, inept or incompetent, fear of wanton wastage of time, fear of being perceived to be pushy or aggressive, low self-esteem, the big man syndrome, know-it-all attitude, big ego, pride and pomposity.  

The writer facilitates skills enhancement-cum-development programmes in universities, colleges and churches. He focuses on soft skills, employability skills, transferable skills, 21st century skills and life skills. 0704420232

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