Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018
September is the transition time between the dog days of summer to the mad rush of the fall season. If July and August are about kicking back in our flip flops then September and the months beyond are the payback. Deep down, we know we can no longer think, I’ll get on to that task in the fall.
So what’s on your list of autumn to-dos? Drawing up budgets, hiring staff, creating project plans, generating new ideas and so on? How about a bit of networking? In my view, fall is a perfect time to start thinking about which professional relationships need some face time and what more you might be doing to develop your contacts.
Most of us are pretty good at staying in touch with the people we know well. However, there are several benefits that come from either figuring out new people to cultivate or drawing up a list of individuals we used to know who are worthy of reconnection efforts.
Networking is a skill and many of us shy away from doing it as robustly as we could. A recent Forbes article written by Bonnie Marcus provides a summary of what tends to hold people back and then offers some tips on how to create a network that reflects what you need at this particular moment.
First, and maybe most importantly, we have to minimize the feeling that getting to know people in a strategic way is disingenuous. Decrease feelings of unease by remembering that you will give something of yourself to others while learning more about them. Second, think carefully about who might be interesting to add to your list of contacts and why you think that’s the case. Doing this exercise will help you maximize the benefit of your efforts. Finally, extroverts, ambiverts and introverts can all network effectively but need to channel their unique strengths so they feel comfortable and authentic. Figure out what works best for you and commit yourself with small, manageable goals.
There’s no magic to building a network. Each of us needs to have people in our professional lives that we can reach out to for advice, comfort or help. It takes time, of course, but the payoffs to your career and day-to-day working life will be worth it.
Steven Cline, Osler’s coach-in-residence