Written by Dr Nigel Eady
Networking is a bit like Marmite – you love it or you hate it! Yet, if you really want to progress, in almost every walk of life, it’s absolutely invaluable. Hear me out, even if you’re getting sweaty palms and starting to hyperventilate just at the thought of having to talk to someone you don’t know!
1. Stay at the forefront. Networks allow you to keep your finger on the pulse. What new funding scheme has been launched? Who is looking for collaborators? Which interesting seminars are happening? Your network will help you know what’s going on.
2. Find effective solutions. None of us have a monopoly on creativity. If you maintain a broad network you will be able to tap into a wealth of experience, knowledge and ingenuity, especially when problems arise.
3. Discover career options. Many jobs are never advertised on the open market. If you have an effective network, you significantly increase your chances of being in the right place at the right time to seize those opportunities.
4. Give as well as receive. The fastest way to grow your network is to be helpful to people. When you then need help yourself, you’re much more likely to find someone who’s willing to help you out.
5. Develop your confidence. Making the active choice to cultivate your networks is time well spent. Over time, your confidence will increase and you’ll become a more natural communicator.
If like me, you need time on our own, then networking can easily stay at the bottom of your ‘to do’ list, although some extroverts still need encouragement to network. Remember your networks don’t have to be huge. Start small. Cultivate a few connections with people whose backgrounds, skills and attributes you value, and who complement your own skills. I promise you that, in time, you’ll be glad you made the effort.