WHAT IS NETWORKING?

Bharat Daga
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Bharat Daga

Co-Executive Director at BNI Pune East and North, author and a serial entrepreneur

October 2022: Once, a gentleman walked up to me and asked, “Can you say hello to people on the road?” I looked at him in horror and wondered how. This gentleman, who later became one of my mentors in life, said, “Let me show you how” and this was my initiation into networking

When I look back at that time of my life, I thought I should try and find the answer in simple terms and some of the answers are given below:

  • The easiest thing about networking is that it is to do with listening and not only talking

Networking is not about just talking but good networkers are those who listen to others. Most often, people feel they need to keep talking to be a part of a conversation but sometimes just asking the right questions and listening is more effective when it comes to networking. So, by listening well and asking the right questions, you can get ahead of the competition. If you think you are an introvert or a reserved person, you have a given advantage in networking.

  • It is about building relationships and support networks

Building a relationship is simply getting people to know you, then like you, and then trust you. The investment in building relationships is what helps you build yourself up as a business owner or also at your place of work. We all have different networks which support us in different ways, and networking is finding which is the right network not only for building business but also for other needs we might have, and then actively cultivating such networks.

  • Making yourself visible to “key audiences and target markets”

It’s been said that, in today’s competitive world, the strategy for survival is visibility. It’s not good enough to be the best at what you do, but others need to know about this. Multiple people out there who have half the knowledge you do may earn much more because they know the right people. Finding the right places to be visible is a key strategy for succeeding at networking

  • It makes new relationships to uncover new opportunities

Every relationship you start will be by i) phone ii) emails iii) social media forums iv) letters v) recommendations or introductions or vi) face-to-face meetings. Post covid, it has become easier to network as everyone has realised that digital interactions can help in building relationships. Networking, today, has become wider, but good networking is when you go deeper with your relationships.

  • Networking is to connect with people, knowledge, ideas and resources

There is a concept called masterminding where one mind plus one mind can create more knowledge than just the addition. They say the answer to most questions in life is out there, and you can either make the same mistakes or quickly learn from others how to move ahead without repeating their mistakes. What is the input which will help you move to the next level? Finding this set of people and cultivating this network is important. 

  • It is a two-way process – Learning about each other

Networking has worked best for those who invested as much time to learn about others as they did in informing others about themselves. Networking is used to initiate a relationship also, but good networking is when two people invest the time to get to know each other and contribute to the growth of each other actively. 

Networking is always a “WIN-WIN” game where everyone involved comes out gaining from the interactions, and it is self-perpetuating as it keeps adding to a person’s satisfaction. 

Before you start networking, the key questions you might need to ask yourself are –

  • Why am I networking?
  • Whom do I need to meet to fulfil my needs?
  • Where will I find these people?
  • How do you meet them often enough to build a relationship with the right people?

This would be a great start for your networking journey. Next time, we will cover more about these four key questions, starting with what could be your goals for networking.

Until then, Happy Networking!

 Note: This article was first published in the real estate magazine Dreams Per Square Feet.