We are all told that if you want to progress in your career ambitions it is essential to network. Now it is important to state early on that by networking we are not referring to the old adage of “It’s not what you know but who you know”. Used in this context networking reeks of privilege and abuse of position. As someone who works for an educational institution that is dedicated to promoting the cause of social mobility, I sincerely hope that this is a definition we can place firmly in the in the past.
I would hope that in 2016 a far better definition would be “It’s not who you know but who knows what you know”. This updated definition reflects much more the mood of our times. A world of networking where family connections or membership of the right club is not important, what matters is your knowledge and experience and your track record in do a good job. This is an environment where anyone who has the right knowledge, skills and talent can build a reputation and consequently a network of contacts to match.
Building brand “you”
So building a good reputation in your respective field is good …….but that’s hardly new news is it? We all know that it takes a long time to build a reputation and no time at all to destroy it, and yet this in 2016 this is a different world of networking. What has changed in the past few years is the emergence of social media as a tool for professional networking and in turn how it has enabled us to go one step further and build a personal brand.
This is different from building a reputation and represents a significant development. In my view reputations are largely about past achievements, while a brand offers something which speaks about the values of you represent, and more importantly what you hope to achieve in the future.
But why is networking so hard?
There are many reasons why people shy away from networking. Some of the most common excuses are listed below;
- I feel embarrassed to promote myself.
- I don’t how to find people.
- It takes too long.
- I don’t like boasting about myself.
- Is it worth it?
These are all valid points, but perhaps a better way to consider networking is to view it as an investment in ourselves. It is an investment that if we manage it correctly can enable us each to reap considerable rewards. Nobody else is better placed than you to make that investment and it is a great way to meet new professionals and learn from them too.
So how do I get started?
The really good news is that with the development of social media networking has never been easier. The professionals networking tool of choice is Linked In. It has hundreds of millions of members and its reach stretches across the globe. It is easy to join and gets you over the initial hurdles of embarrassment and saves you a great deal of time.
At GSM London Careers & Employability team we recommend all students no matter which career path they are following to create a profile and get the ball rolling by connecting with the careers team. We run many seminars on how to get the best from LinkedIn; no matter what your level of experience.
The careers team look forward to hearing from you.