From Ryan Baker of Coburg Consultants
Bob Dylan once sang, “You walk into the room, with your pencil in your hand…and say ‘who is that man?’” His confused tone speaks directly to the listener – you sympathize with him and share his curiosity.
However, if you step back and take a critical eye, you’d ask Bob why he walked in there without knowing what was going on. It’s clear Mr. Dylan hasn’t had a lesson in professional networking.
“Knowing your stuff is the most integral part of networking,” says Chris McKenney, second-year CRMBA candidate. “Most people are happy to share their experiences but do not want to waste their time with someone who hasn’t done their homework. Know the industry, their firm, and current events to truly demonstrate your passion. At the end of the day, know your stuff, be yourself and if you really want that dream job, you have to reach out and get it.”
However, being informed is not the only thing needed to network efficiently. One of the first things done by new students to the CRMBA program is a Myers-Briggs test, which, in part, helps them understand where they draw their energy from. For many extroverts, networking is a natural source of energy but for introverts, networking may be a fear-filled and unnatural situation to step into.
On the contrary, introversion can be a source of power. When building your professional network, it is important to be organized and to build genuine relationships says Meagan Ng, Strategic Planning and Analysis Team Leader for Bell Aliant Residential Marketing. “You don’t jump into a networking circle, you develop it over time. Be authentic towards those you wish to follow to cultivate a sincere relationship with them.”
A big part of authentic networking is finding mutual connections between yourself and your counterpart. While golf for instance has traditionally been an opportunity to build a relationship, there are many other ways to do so. Try to find occasions to participate in shared interests. Often times, these are opportunities to demonstrate your leadership, teamwork skills, and depth of character.
The important thing is to always be networking. “We are always being judged by an invisible yardstick,” says Ng, “It is not always how smart we are but how we handle ourselves and others and who we are associated with.” Most executives spend at least an hour per week sending notes and keeping up with their connections.
You don’t need to be a professional to start networking. Morgan McCunn, first year CRMBA candidate encourages prospective students to begin networking early. “There were many people in our cohort who had their ideal Corporate Residencies in mind before joining the program. They put themselves outside of their comfort zone and began informational interviews early on. For many of them, this helped secure their dream residency even before Interview Day.” This type of vigour and effort recently helped Morgan secure a position with Deloitte.
Networking is not only something you do over dinner or with an hors d’oeuvre in your hand – it should be part of your daily routine. Social media, LinkedIn and the occasional email are simple means by which to stay connected with people.
Congratulate a colleague on a promotion, send happy birthday wishes, or let someone know that you’ll be in town for a few days. According to Matthew Moran, this is just a second round of POTTY training.
On a personal note, I’ve always seen networking as a two-way street and I’d be happy to connect with any of our readers. Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or to the Coburg team at firstname.lastname@example.org.