Networking In Business

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Networking in Business

And why it is the most important part of the business.

 

I wanted to share one BIG piece of advice with you. Over the years of working in business environment, I have learned that networking was the most important part of it. Have you ever heard the phrase “It is not about what you know, but who you know”? I am definitely leaning towards admitting, that is the case whether you like it or not. 

I have experienced that over the years, on plenty occasions but especially when looking for a new job. For a young professional it is difficult to get into a right role. I would risk a statement that a foreign person might have twice as hard job to do – new place, new language, no connections and possibly no work experience in the new country of residence. Although once you build your reputation and get your name out there as reliable, knowledgeable and an expert in the field – people will be literally knocking on your doors. That is years of hard work, gaining skills, experience, studying but also NETWORKING. Building a web of connections professionally and socially.

How much more difficult it is to email CV and complete tens of pages of online applications? That was my reality for years since coming to UK. Back in the day I was walking round different business and handing my CV personally, hoping that someone will call me back. I was looking for an entry level job. Any job that would create a regular income, to be able to provide for myself. I still think this way is easier, because if you come across the person, that is a decision maker in the business (example pub, restaurant, shop) they may be leaning towards you straight away, based on your social skills and ability to present yourself professionally. When we email or post CV, cover letter or application – there is no personal interaction, there is no connection – in fact it is a split-second decision making moment.

I can speak from experience, whenever I was recruiting for different positions in a business, I did not spend more than 10-15 seconds scrolling through candidates CV. It is a shame, but it is also a reality. I would look for most recent job title, little information on experience and any relevant skill, in order to short list candidates. Any signs that they would also fit within the specific business or a team. In a very demanding job, recruiting managers don’t usually have time to short list candidates based on 3-4 pages long CV’s.

Looking at it from my personal perspective, this is no doubt how most of the recruiters looked at my CV when I was applying for the jobs. Since I am unable to even count the times I was rejected or not even had a reply, this must have been the case. Someone looked at my CV for 15 seconds and decided, nope this is not right fit for us. Even though I am very hard-working person, quick learner with a lot to offer – which I proved over the years wherever I worked – piece of paper will not do us justice most of the time.

It might not be completely irrelevant. There will be situations where obviously you must have a good CV, certainly don’t lie on it – it will come out very easily. Once you become a specialist or expert in the field, like an engineer, accountant, technician and so on, most likely you will not encounter an issue applying for a like for like job. You need to be able to present your work experience and education in a clear format. Although if you don’t hold relevant experience just yet, and you are looking to step up this becomes trickier. Very important though, when you get THAT job, make sure you get the most of it. Prove yourself, work hard, use the time to get to know your company and the industry you work in. Stay up to date with what is happening in your industry and country economy. For example, as I am working in motor industry, I would be reading AM Online, manufacturer news, stay up to date with current political affairs on Brexit, that clearly affected EVERY single business in one way or the other.

If you can get all the points above right, there is on step left. The biggest gains over the years of living in the UK for me, was building network of professional connections. Everywhere I worked, I ensured I got to know people. I knew what their job role was and how they impact the business. I was keen on getting to know them and getting to know ABOUT them. There is a difference. Human nature is that of likeliness to talk about ourselves, usually more than we want to listen. That is an important point, because if you can learn to listen and ask the right questions – you can make another person feel comfortable, safe and wanting to share more with you.

Remember though, your interest must be genuine. There is no point in pretending to be interested in another person or their job if you don’t care in slightest. They will sense it. Maybe it was easier for me as, I am genuinely interested in meeting new people – be it at work or during travel. I will talk to anyone, even those who don’t want to talk to me. That is not usually the case and you can find out so many interesting stories from those sitting next you, not just in the office, but on a plane or train. Don’t be afraid to strike a conversation, worse that can happen they will not engage in full on chat.

On a serious note though, once you start building the connections and you know more about your colleagues, your staff, your managers, your customers, your clients – it all goes from here. Now you will be able to start forming a relationship. You will be able to hold a more valuable conversation, than just your usual small talk about recent weather condition. It could be about their workload, or interests, or family, or recent holiday.

My personal point to add, is that I have not been building relationships and connections over the years, with the thought of benefiting from it in mind. It all happened naturally. Although if I can save you some time in future, then I am prepared to share this great tip with you.

It is a two-way system, now you have formed new relationships at work and in professional environment around you (be it through work conferences, LinkedIn, client base) you can both start benefiting. Your connections are the greatest source of information, knowledge, advice, skill, expertise and further connections. These are the people “that know people”. Whether you are in need of a specialists in a field, maybe you are recruiting and need some leads for skilled workforce, maybe you are looking for a job, maybe you need a mentor, maybe you are looking for a good training programme, maybe a new car etc. In any of the above scenarios – would you rather go to online search engine and try find the best possible answer yourself, picking out of thousands of returns, or would you rather go to one of your connections, who more likely is going to have a best answer/solution for you straight away? I will let you answer this one.

Over the years I have met many great people. They became my connections, I have built a personal network of specialists in fields such as automotive industry, recruitment, management, training, manufacturing, IT solutions but also in day to day requirements such as plumbing, finance solutions, property maintenance. I am sure you are going to agree with me on how difficult it is to find a reliable plumber or electrician in today’s market. It is as difficult as finding a right person to recruit for a job. Once you build a network though, all you need to do, is scroll through your contacts list in your phone or email and reach out.

Remember though, it works both ways. It is important to be helpful and offer your own skill, knowledge and expertise to your contacts to. It might not always be a very balanced relationship, but as in any relationship I believe it is more important to share and give than expect.

If you haven’t already, make sure you find something new about the person sitting next to you – you never know, maybe out of work they are passionate about filming using drones and might be just interested in helping to capture those great moments at your daughter’s wedding. Or maybe the gentleman sitting next to you on the train has been recruiting for motor trade industry for past 30 years and has the perfect candidate for your dealership in Northampton.

Possibilities are endless, just open yourself to them.