Fundamentals of Professional Networking – Part 1
This is the first in a series on the Fundamentals of Networking.
Networking is the process of connecting with individuals with whom you can have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Before doing anything else pertaining to your network you must have a networking strategy. To figure this out you must be able to answer the following questions:
- Who do you want in your network?
- Why do you want these individuals in your network?
- What value do you expect to give your connections?
- What value do you expect your connections to bring?
- Where will you find your connections? and
- How much time are you willing to commit to your network?
Having a strategy is key to developing a mutually beneficial network where there is an equal exchange of value.
Who Do You Want in Your Network?
When we speak of who; we could be talking about specific individuals, jobs or positions, the company or companies where they work or the connections they have. Your reason may be one of these or something totally different. The point is you need to know the answer to have an effective networking strategy.
Personally I am building a network of people who have been temporary employees. I’m not looking for recruiters or those working directly for the temporary agency; I want the individuals who have been the contractors on the front lines of work as part of my network. As you can see I am very specific when it comes to this network and it makes my process of connecting very easy. If you are a temporary or contract employee connect with me here
Why Do you Want These Individuals in Your Network?
What is your reason for wanting to connect with these individuals? You may want people, but you need to really be focused as to why you want them in your network. It would be very difficult to convince someone to join you when you don’t know why you want them to join.
Going back to my network of temporary employees my reason is I believe we have experiences to share which will be mutually beneficial. I want to hear their stories and share mine. The number of temporary employees is on the rise and there are no current outlets for temporary employees to share and learn.
What Value Do You Have to Offer Your Connections?
This doesn’t mean monetary value, although it could. What it means is networking value which could be a large network of your own to share, valuable insight and knowledge, perspective, willingness to share what is shared with you, support, admiration or any number of other things the connection you want would see as a benefit to them.
With the temporary employees I have 15 years’ experience as a temporary employee working with several different firms and for myself. I’ve learned a great deal about negotiation initial hourly rates and negotiating increases in my hourly rate. Many temporary employees are unaware they can get raises or negotiate; I feel I can assist in their understanding.
What Value Do You Expect Your Connections to Bring?
Again we aren’t necessarily talking about monetary value, but there could be opportunities to monetize. What is being discussed is what connections, experience, knowledge, stories or other information which might be helpful might they bring and be willing to share.
With the temporary employees I want to hear their experiences and find out what they have learned about being a temporary employee and working for a temporary agency.
Where Will You Find Your Connections?
When you know who you want, why you want them, what you have to offer, and what you expect of them; you can start your search. Whether you use LinkedIn, web searches, Facebook or whatever you have a set of criteria which can help you be specific with your search.
For my temporary employees I can search for individuals who have worked as contractors for specific temporary agencies. My strategy makes it very easy to build a search criteria.
How Much Time Are You Willing to Commit to Your Network?
The last question is what time are you willing to commit to not only building, but nurturing your network? Effective networking takes time and effort. It’s not a 40 hour job by any stretch, but it may be 15 minutes to an hour each day depending upon your goals and objectives.
With my temporary employees I will easily spend a couple of hours each day identifying the people I want in my network, sending invitations, thanking them for joining and communicating with them. My network is important to me and hopefully to them.
This is the first article in the series be watching for more and please give me some feedback below.
Tom Staskiewicz writes on employment issues and has a special interest in temporary work. With over 15 years experience as a temporary employee working for multiple agencies and businesses he has a great perspective on what it takes to be successful as a temp. He has negotiated better starting pay and periodic raises for himself and others as temporary employees.