Have you ever wondered why many highly intelligent people do not quite succeed in the real world and why others who did not exactly do well in school would surprise everyone with their success in life? Does a person’s success in life depend on his intelligence or is it pure luck?
Being knowledgeable and skilled will give you a head start. It will get you places for sure. But growing up, my mother has always reminded me of this saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” A person’s skill in building connections is a critical ingredient for success.
If you are the sociable type, networking will come naturally for you. But what if, like me, you are a little bit introverted? How can you get out of your shell? How can you become better in building connections that will lead you to better opportunities for success?
Here are a few tips that I have learned…
Confidence is being comfortable with who you are. This means knowing yourself, your interests, your strengths and weaknesses, your goals in life. Spend some quiet time identifying who you are and what you want to project yourself as to the outside world. Define yourself. Once you figure this out, it will be easier for you to introduce yourself to others and be remembered.
Find Common Interest
If you are passionate about something, perhaps a hobby or a hidden talent, find others with similar interests. Networking is easier with people with like minds. Conversations, meet ups and activities are more interesting if you are interested in the same subject.
Once you know your interests or goals, you networking efforts will have better direction. For instance, if you like photography, joining a photographer’s club will allow you to meet and mingle with other great photographers where you can learn to hone your craft and get great deals. If you are interested in career advancement and human resources, joining HR Club Philippines will give you the right educational support and network of HR practitioners.
Brush Up Your Social Skills
Networking requires good social skills. You’ve got to learn how to deal with people, remember names, make small talk and let others feel that you are sincerely interested in them. Whether you are networking face-to-face or connecting with others online, remember to mind your manners. Avoid being obnoxious by respecting others.
Keep In Touch
This is the part of networking that most people forget but this is one of the critical aspects of networking if you want to build connections that really matter. Most people forget people they have met the moment they are out of sight. A good networker keeps in touch with people. After meeting the person, they make sure to file business cards or find and friend them in facebook. I once met a man who would staple business cards in his daily planner and write notes on it. A few weeks later, I got a call from him reminding me of how and when we met and offering me a business opportunity based from the conversation we had.
It is easier to network with people in the same circle or level in life. But if you want to seriously take your life to the next level, you’ve got to try going out of your comfort zone once in a while. Converse and connect with people who are more successful or are in a higher position than you. You are bound to learn and level up when you do so. If they welcome you because you have something to offer them as well, your world will open up to more opportunities and possibilities.
Some people view “Building connections” as a negative endeavor because it connotes making friends in order to use them or making “sipsip” to get ahead. I personally had some issues with this until my husband explained that networking is about giving, not taking. If you have something worthwhile to offer others or your group, be generous and helpful. By giving back, you will build more connections and succeed with others.
Networking is about building relationships with people to succeed in life. Intelligence and capabilities will give you a head start, but connecting with people is what will bring you opportunities to succeed.
Note: This article was originally published at Manila Bulletin Newspaper.
Jhoanna O. Gan-So is president of Businessmaker Academy and HR Club Philippines. Her organization offers public seminars and in-house training on Human Resource Management and Business Skills Development. You may email your comments and questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org