Opinion piece written by Maria Wilson & Kendra Preteroti
People network for many reasons, including seeking career opportunities, expanding professional knowledge, or growing social circles. It can be a significant factor in professional growth as it serves as a way to connect with peers who can offer guidance through our careers and aid in achieving professional goals. But networking is multi-faceted. It also provides a mutually impactful opportunity to share personal insight and experience. Here are some of our suggestions to optimize your networking skills:
Reframe your Mindset
Networking can be a great way to gain perspective and may be necessary to accomplish one’s professional goals. However, be careful to avoid simply an exchange rooted in personal motivation and focus instead on creating a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas or experiences. To promote this, individuals could approach networking with a new mindset – one that is rooted in mutual interest rather than self-interest, recognizing that each person has experience and insight to offer.
Networking is about people and understanding that others supply unique perspectives. Each person’s life events offer an unmatched knowledge that only experience can gain. One of the most compelling reasons to continue these relationships is consistent advice with career or business decisions. Navigating these challenges alone can be daunting, but surrounding yourself with experienced people can make all the difference. A network of people has perspectives obtained from experience and offers qualified advice in problem-solving, but at times, finding these individuals can be challenging. So…
Diversify your Connections
Organizations and events geared towards the design profession, such as IIDA or furniture or dealer showroom events, are a great way to connect with like-minded professionals. Still, an external community may have unforeseen networking benefits as well. A cross-section of experience, talent, and skill-set can be very beneficial to harnessing a well-rounded perspective. We’ve found that real estate-focused organizations such as IFMA, CoreNet, or the Urban Land Institute are great related avenues to make connections, but also consider local chambers of commerce, zoning boards, or community-based organizations as opportunities to diversify your perspective.
Create Relationships that Last
Often, people view networking as a means to an end. They work hard to achieve a goal and then cease the action once completed. However, in doing so, one may miss the benefits that can come with long-term professional relationships. In recognizing this value, networking takes the form of exchanging ideas rooted in a more meaningful connection. When networking is approached with sincerity, relationships take on a deeper meaning, and it graduates from an exchange of knowledge and transforms into an authentic connection that lasts. Achieving this takes time, mutual interest, and the willingness to let go of a self-interested attitude.
As the world gets back to a new normal, there is an opportunity to change our networking approach. Rooted in mutual interest, the greater community, and genuine connection, we can find help when we need it, community to engage with, and friendship along the way.
Here are some resources for networking events: IFMA Events IIDA Events CoreNet Events ULI Events
Have networking insight or an inspirational story to share? We’d love to hear from you https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdLD4ft8mKWIlJArUXdbC94Prw7t6PWWG-wWxWN3aRQOg6TiQ/viewform