Grace Killelea has been a women’s coach and mentor for over 15 years. Grace has served as the only national facilitator of a premier executive leadership program for women in the telecommunications industry and is a highly sought-after keynote speaker. The following has been adapted from Grace’s book The Confidence Effect
One of the many misconceptions of networking is that it requires a stern, stiff, and well-rehearsed elevator speech with which to introduce (i.e., “sell”) yourself and, ostensibly, ask the other person for something: a compliment, an introduction, a business card, a phone number, etc.
But networking is not a speech; it’s a free-flowing, ongoing conversation–an exchange of words, ideas, inspirations, support, encouragement, and, above all, opportunities.
One of the most important elements of networking is not just to be “served,” but to be of service as well. Finding out how you can help others make connections, providing your contacts with helpful information, and being supportive of your network makes a difference. If all you ever do is take, take, and then take some more, word spreads and that becomes your personal brand. But if you’re recognized as someone who is generous with your time and skills, someone who does for others as often as others do for you, then that becomes your much more powerful, and influential, personal brand. And that’s the kind of brand that makes networking easier down the line because people will actively seek you out to connect and collaborate with you.
Another misconception about networking is that it’s massively time consuming. Networking does take time– especially to do it right–but take heart: You don’t have to create a vast and thriving network overnight!
One of the first places to start networking is within your own organization, and it’s much easier than you think. In fact, here is my simple, proven method for Networking in 20 Minutes:
- Start by identifying a skill set that you are looking to improve upon or even master, such as marketing, promotion, technology, or social media. Let’s say you’re an expert at marketing, but you struggle with budgeting.
- Reach out to someone in the finance division of your company to set up a brief, 20-minute meeting.
- Offer to buy the finance person a cup of coffee; make it convenient for her and stress that you won’t take up a lot of time. Typically, I find 20 minutes is enough to get to know each other better, connect, and share vital information.
- During this meeting, talk briefly about your diverse skill sets and, most importantly, offer something in return. For example, after learning a bit more about budgeting, perhaps you can make a few marketing suggestions to her, such as how to make a more effective presentation.
I’m a big believer in going outside of your area to continually improve your own skill set and that of others. So, if you are in marketing, get to know the operations side of your company a little better; become familiar with the real “guts” of the organization.
Branch out of your comfort zone, broaden your horizons, and introduce yourself to folks you wouldn’t seek out if you weren’t interested in growing your network.
The Confidence Effect: Every Woman’s Guide to the Attitude That Attracts Success by Grace Killelea
©2016 Grace Killelea All rights reserved.
Published by AMACOM Books
Leveraging the power of networking will make you stand out at your organization. Open up more leadership opportunities by training with AMA's seminars and other resources.