People always carry this confusing notion about networking – to network is to seek job opportunities. No. To network is to learn.
Think about it, if you are into finance, a person in dog food supply can’t be of much help. But why do you still need to network with them or learn about their experiences? Simply to grow.
Of course, networking with people from the same industry as yours has its perks. And, if you are networking with people working in interesting brands that you potentially want to work with – it is a plus. But let’s not put networking into a bracket and close it. Or should I say, let’s not stereotype it?
I network for one sole reason – to learn. I network so I can make use of various experiences and situations of other professionals to help me in the decision making. I network so I can know about the possibilities and where else can I grow. I also network so I can be able to tell my story. How and when I got here from where I got here.
Since I am a marketing professional, of course, I am into lists. So here are the dos and don’ts.
- Meet people from different industries
- Attend seminars, webinars, listen to podcasts, interviews
- Follow different brands on social media, learn about their strategies, tactics, and marketing/sales/business models
- Even if you are not pursuing it professionally, always learn about the fields that interested you since you were young
- Follow C-level professionals from various firms across social media channels and especially, LinkedIn
- Strike a conversation. If you’re around any of the professionals from other industries, don’t be shy. Say hi. Everyone loves a conversation (err… professional. Don’t DM them on Instagram).
- Be kind. Some people are really passionate about what they do. Respect that.
- Don’t come across as a creep. This is a personality thing, but make note of where to draw a line.
- Don’t be nasty. When we meet people from other backgrounds, a difference of opinion is normal – so even if you have a put a point forward, remember to respect and sound opinionated, not insulting.
- Don’t be political. In a country like India, unless you ensure you don’t hurt anyone’s sentiments by talking about politics – you shouldn’t do it.
- Ask. Nobody dislikes a curious mind. They dislike a nagging mind. There’s a difference.
- Don’t be over-friendly. Don’t ask for phone numbers. Always email. Always.
- Be casual. Most of the time you won’t know a person’s way of working when you meet them at a professional space. Stick to basics. Make them feel like you want to learn from them and not teach them their own game.
- Don’t be a know-it-all. No one likes them.
Networking is serious because you do it in a professional space. You do it around people who are learned or are learning.