The Art of Networking: Building Relationships for Success

Every day, we build relationships. Whether it is the little chat at the newspaper stand, the argument at an Instagram comment section or the conversation on the bus, we are constantly making connections and relationships. We are social beings, and to successfully navigate through life and the world, we need to interact and build relationships with people. 

These day-to-day interactions and relationships that we make are called NETWORKS. Networking is not only about going and shoving business cards into people’s hands; it is about building long-term relationships. In the professional and business world, networks are like magician boxes; they contain immense opportunities and benefits, and their importance can never be overstated.

Understanding your network is crucial for constructing successful relationships. Your network must be made according to your needs and wants. For example, are you an entrepreneur in agriculture? Then you should seek agricultural communities, events, festivals etc. It will be counterproductive for you as a farming entrepreneur to seek a network that has no significance to your field.

Once your network is identified, then you must proceed to relationship building. This phase could make or mar your network, hence the need for the art of conversation. When people hear the phrase “art of conversation”, they might think only extroverts possess this skill. But they are wrong; exchanges have to be intentional when networking in a professional setting; they are different from our chatters at the cafeteria. With clearly defined goals and talking points, anybody – introverts, extroverts or ambiverts – could master the arts of conversation. In our daily utterances, we switch from one topic to another – while conversations are more sustained, humane, purposeful, intimate and substantial. When we converse with our potential networks, we must be discreet enough to listen, assured enough to express our true beliefs, and subtle enough to search out the intentions behind our opinions.

These conversations must be geared towards building trust. Trusts are critical parts of human interaction and relationships. How do you create trust? You might ask. When networking, trust is built by understanding other people’s perspectives; when you submit yourselves to learn from other people’s viewpoints without forcing your perspectives on them, trust is forged.

Nobody wants to feel used. Your networking goal must be to build mutually beneficial relationships; these relationships and interactions must feel authentic, thus creating a deep connection that improves everybody’s lives. When you meet people for the first time, you should offer to help them first rather than seeking favours. When you help other people with their problems, you move from a threatening stranger to a familiar insider.

Staying in touch is very pertinent. When you build networks, you make sure they are supervised. An instant message during the holidays, a complimentary card on their birthdays, Facebook wish on their anniversaries keep the relationships strong and potent. Networks are like a car’s engine; they need lubricants – staying in touch – for them to work perfectly.

Networking could be a hassle and a chore for many people. The road to a successful network is riddled with pitfalls ranging from anxiety, social uncertainty, and the fear of rejection to busy schedules. Yet, despite these pitfalls, networking remains a valuable investment in your growth and career.

Networking is like a magic wand for your career. It opens doors, creates opportunities, and helps build the relationships essential for success. Remember, you never know who your next fairy godmother or prince charming will be, so it’s necessary always to build your network and cultivate those relationships. So go forth, network like a pro, and make those connections that will help you live happily ever after in your career!