With the event and award season fast approaching, Emma Blaney, founding member and Founder of Productive Property People, talks about the true meaning and importance of networking.
We all lead super busy lives. Between work, friends, family and all the other commitments you have signed yourself up to, networking can feel like an unnecessary add on. For so many people, opportunities to network go on the calendar and then come off as soon as something deemed more significant (or more fun) comes along. But networking is actually one of the most important, and enjoyable, parts of building your career in the leasehold industry.
Networking provides a rare opportunity to build relationships. Often networking is deemed synonymous with selling, attempting to hunt down everyone in the room that may be interested in your company or service so you can pin them to a wall and talk at them about how you are the best in the sector. Or, on the other hand, you are worried you will be the person pinned to the wall nodding furiously with a promise to ‘catch up next week’. (Which of these people is in a worse position is yet to be determined.) But this isn’t networking. Networking is about getting to know people on a personal level, through human interaction and without any definable gain.
So, with no immediate gain what is the point of networking? Well connecting with people can lead to something far better than a onetime business opportunity, it can build a relationship, and in some cases, dare I say, a friendship. These relationships may well provide you with opportunities to work together now or in the future but they also provide you with a fantastic, eclectic mix of people, there to support and encourage you whenever you need. For me, these relationships have not only inspired me but I have learnt so much from those around me. They have provided me with positive influences, helping me build my career and providing unbiased guidance to help me make good choices along the way.
Some of you may be familiar with the theory of six degrees of separation (although Facebook claims they have now reduced this to 3.5). The theory is that any person on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries (or 3.5 if you are on Facebook). But what does this mean in terms of networking? No conversation is a wasted opportunity. The person you are engaged with may not seem like someone that can inspire you or support you (or give you a business opportunity if that’s what you really want) but the likelihood is that they know someone who can. Networking is like making a spider’s web, you have to start small to build outwards.
Kids are great networkers. If you have ever seen kids play (or maybe if you are a younger Doyenne you may even remember) there is no fear or worry. They just run around and play and before you know it they are the best of friends. But as adults its quite unnatural for us to walk up and start talking to someone as our fear of being judged or making a fool of ourselves can often take over. Now we aren’t children (sadly) and I am certainly not suggesting that you should kick anyone in the chin to start a conversation but just say something. Anything. Don’t get hung up on the first thing that you say. It doesn’t need to be profound, remember whoever it is, they are just people too. And it gets easier with practice so the more people you speak with, the more practice you get, and the bigger your network grows.
For those of you attending the awards this year, I look forward to networking with you there! And good luck to all you who are up for awards, fingers crossed!!!