Dictionary.com defines networking as, “A supportive system of sharing information and services individuals and groups having a common interest”.
The operative words in defining and building up networking are ‘common interest’. Common interests amongst a group of people are what bind people together in strong bonds of networking.
Peer-to-peer networking is an effective medium of exchanging information, support, and services. It works well in a wide array of similarly inclined groups like working mothers, fatal diseases survivors, adventure enthusiasts, students, businessmen, business leaders and entrepreneurs to just name a few.
Why corporate leaders and managers must network with their peers external to their own organization?
Networking can be effectively employed as a strategic approach to achieve business, professional and personal growth. At any stage, to avoid stagnancy, you need much of exchange of ideas, and networking proves to be an effective preferred choice among corporate leaders.
Advantages of networking
- Networking can be leveraged for impressing upon and building up an unparalleled and otherwise unreachable target audience that in turn can spread a good word about your organization and the work culture.
- Networking also opens the door to exploring and exchanging new ideas, thoughts, views, opinions, and solutions.
- Being on the top of the hierarchy, even corporate leaders get to a lonely spot within the organization. Peer interactions get them out of their ivory tower and ensure that he/she gets a wider panoramic view of the current and future issues through multiple sets of eyes of his/her peers.
Even though networking is not a new concept, the power of meaningful connections has become more important than ever in a social media-driven world. However, effective networkers need not be born, it is a skill that people can learn and develop required skill sets to garner positive results with the applied approach. If one wants to become an effective master networker, s/he needs to work hard and with patience develop the fine art of networking over time.
We are whom we connect with, and the maintenance of the relationship with the right industry visionaries/ thought leaders is a vital component both for online and offline networking. The reflection of how a brand, business, or an individual’s identity is perceived by others creates a lasting impression and should be viewed as an important part of a company’s communication and branding strategy.
Peer-to-peer networking can be an effective channel to put your communication strategy into practice.
It is easy and beneficial, as it helps the leaders /managers to outreach themselves. The best start for a peer-to-peer networking is by attending as many industry/business events and conferences as one can. Such events are a veritable goldmine where other highly placed corporate leaders or other even investors are easily accessible.
Being a part of any corporate/management network benefits the person not only professionally, but also personally. A networking support helps as a support system, in illuminating the right path at times of dilemma, and in empowering one as a successful leader.
Some ways to effectively build your network:
- Define your Target Audience – Before starting any pitching, outline the objective to reach your preferred audience. While you may feel that everyone will relate to your cause, this is not the case. Begin by identifying a few key target personas. When creating your target group, consider including your customer demographics, their behavior patterns, and goals. The more detailed you are, more likely you are to achieve the desired goal.
- Be active on Social Media platforms – Being socially active can let you connect with like-minded people. Some platforms like LinkedIn are crucial for the business/ profession you are in and benefit the leader managers through online social networking. It can let your well-laid-out profile reach out to the right audiences. However, this is not enough. Try to find and join the right groups for your niche, and actively participate in conversations to attract like-minded individuals to your brand or services. It is advisable to send out personalized messages, but not sell to people in your network.
- Attend conferences/ seminars/ events – The best-tested method to connect with others in your industry is to attend professional conferences, meetings, and seminars. It is a powerful way to connect with the resourceful.
- Make a new connection each week – Make it a goal to meet a new contact in your niche area on a weekly basis, and at the end of the month you will perceive growth not only from these people but also from those who have heard of you or the business you are in through these connections.
- Offer unique content – Your idea, when communicated to others should be unique, professional, and valuable. Offering unique approach to the business/ product/ service will make you a celebrated leader in your group, and you will attract more influencers to your network.
- Give your attention – If you want to gain more confidence while networking then shift your focus and attention to the other person’s needs and learn to be a listener too.
The purpose of a social advocacy is to have an association with people who are ready to share your content to expand your overall reach. It is achieved by either creating or joining a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Last but not the least, the peer- to-peer networks let one learn better, bring alliance with trust and enrich one with the shared experiences of people at their own level, situated in similar circumstances.