By FAWN GERMER
Bestselling Author and Keynote Speaker on Leadership and Success
Women headed for the senior executive offices in corporate America know that networking is one of the most critical skills they can have. Friendships drive our success, and if you want the brass ring, you’ll need the right people pushing you toward it. When I interviewed CEOs and other senior executives about the importance of networking, they shared valuable skills and lessons that can help all of us to achieve greater success.
Remember that networking involves far more than knowing someone on a business level. It’s about connecting with them individually — as friends — so that you are comfortable asking for help and that they want to offer it.
• Networking is working.
• Remember who helped you advance in your career. Maintain contact and continue to thank them for their help.
• Because so much comes down to getting with the right people, figure out who the right people are and network them.
• You can build a connection with any individual on some level, even if it seems you have nothing in common.
• It is critical to spend time with colleagues in an environment that is not work-related. You probably have other things you’d rather do, but you have to do this.
• Visibility over time and places gets you recognized. The more you are recognized, the more opportunities you have to be sponsored.
• Practice talking to strangers and make connections.
• As you meet people, collect their business cards and keep those relationships active with e-mail. Send them updates about what you are doing.
• Recognize that other people are uncomfortable in some networking situations, too. They appreciate your approaching them or inviting them to join you at the table.
• Inclusion gives you exposure. Inclusion gives you opportunities. It is what makes you grow and moves you along.
• You have to toot your own horn because your managers won’t notice everything you do, and other people will take credit for things they didn’t do.