“Networking is linked to many measures of professional success — including getting promoted, having influence, earning more money, and feeling more satisfied in your career”, writes Rebecca Knight, Senior Correspondent for Insider and Contributor at Harvard Business Review.
While this is very true, it all boils down to the people you network with. Connecting to individuals that cannot contribute to your professional development, have dissimilar interests to yours, and do not understand your aspirations or goals, will probably limit your prospects of building a meaningful and productive relationship with them.
According to London Business School’s Professor Raina Brands:
“When you hear the word ‘network’, you might sigh inwardly at the prospect of introducing yourself to people for the sole purpose of making contacts to further a goal. But this is an outdated view of a social network, and networking in this way doesn’t usually produce results”.
It’s all about finding like-minded people to connect with. Similar to you in your area of expertise, line of work, and interests. Quoting Professor Brands “Birds of a feather flock together: people form relationships with similar people”.
So how can you meet like-minded people? There are plenty of ways.
- During a networking event learn how to read the room. Find out who’s on the guest list, their line of work, and their interests, if those are explicitly provided. Alternatively, walk around, listen to conversations, find one where you fit in, and politely introduce yourself without interrupting.
- In general, look for like-minded people on social media, who have interests that are aligned with yours. You can discover them via their line of work, posts, or even hashtags they follow. LinkedIn even offers the “Talks About” section on its users’ profiles. In this manner, the users can be identified by others with shared interests.
- Attend events, meetups, or instances, which are attended by like-minded people. It may be a video games conference, like E3; it may be a meetup for UI/UX designers, or it may be a place of common interests like the gym. As a matter of fact, “sweatworking” is a popular way to connect with others. It has been done traditionally through sports like golf, according to Brigid Sweeney of Chicago Business.
There you have it! Connecting to the right people can make your relationships, and thus network more meaningful and effective. In the words of actor Robert Redford, “Problems can become opportunities when the right people come together.”
Covve Suggests: Add like-minded people from your address book as relationships and tag them with what you share in common, e.g. “Programming”, or “Art”. Search online for any upcoming event that you would both be interested in and set a reminder to invite them to go together. Make them feel free to invite a couple of like-minded friends and offer to do the same.