Most people know the adage, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” And while having the proper intellectual skills to excel in your career is essential, knowing the right people can be equally as valuable.
This idea got me thinking about the importance of relationships and how it relates to a professional career. Think about how many people you have contact with during a typical day of work. Whether it’s a co-worker, supervisor, 3rd party vendor, or client, these relationships are all necessary for maintaining a successful business. Now think about all the people that you talk to each day, and how many people that they talk to. Pretty soon you start creating a web of networks that you can use to benefit your business.
Word of mouth is one of the most influential forms of marketing. For instance, imagine you are a chiropractor with a modest sized practice. Every day you say hello to the same man who delivers the mail to your office. Over the course of time, you have developed a relationship with him and enjoy small talk. Well one day, outside of work, the mailman is visiting with a friend that is complaining about back problems. Because of your daily interactions, the first thing that pop’s into the mailman’s head, is suggesting your practice. This is an example of networking on a small level, but shows that people value their relationships, so therefore value opinions given by those they have relationships with.
Networking also takes the form of organizations and events. These organizations are simple ways to begin networking, if you feel like your a little disconnected. Research different organizations related to your industry and join them. It is also beneficial to look at organizations that aren’t just industry related, to expand audiences. And don’t let your inhibitions or shyness get in the way. You have to get out of your comfort zone in order to be successful at networking. And once you are out of the zone, you will find that that zone expands to not only better business skills, but a more fulfilling life as well. Check out this article in the New York Times, about a woman who has used networking to expand her career to new heights.