Most people think of networking as this soulless enterprise where you speak to people purely based on whether you think they might be able to do something for you. I think this perhaps has something to do with the word ‘networking’, which is reminiscent of IT, transport systems and engineering – all classically non-emotional fields of knowledge.
However, I think what can really be signified by the term ‘networking’ is actually related to reaching a stage of fusion between your personal and public identity, when you finally manage to match up the world of work with who you are as an individual. If you see networking as connecting with other like-minded individuals working in a similar field, who perhaps share your vision and goals, then you no longer see other people in terms of profit and gain.
You just have the joy of making connections with others through the lens of your chosen field, and creating this somewhat shimmering web of relationships with really cool, nice people whom you might not otherwise have met.
Why networking is beneficial
A mutual cooperation and helpfulness can also be characteristic of networking – especially within fields where you need a substantial number of connections to get ahead. Most people will have “been there”, and be keen to pass on knowledge and tools that they gained the hard way.
Other people on a more similar footing to you can provide a sense of camaraderie, mutual support and friendship, maybe differently to other friends whom you have previously made in your life. Networking becomes more appealing when you evolve to the point where you stop seeing your work as something that you have to do, and something that is more of a calling.
My best networking experiences
For me, getting involved in tech through Code First: Girls, completing their coding courses and meeting lots of other intelligent, enthusiastic women was the first experience I had in entering this sort of world.
I’ve been to a few of their networking events and it’s actually really uplifting to meet so many women trying to enter this industry. Everyone is invariably nice and encouraging, and you come away feeling like you can be so much better that you thought you could be.
So, networking is stepping outside yourself and having the courage to make connections with other people in your chosen industry to help you develop, and give you opportunities to reach out to others.
I’m not ready!
If you haven’t yet found the kind of work you want to do, then you could try to network with anyone who you already admire. Sending out personal emails to people whom strike you as the sort of person you could potentially learn from is a good way to reach out. People are friendlier than you might expect!
Do you agree with this post? If not, let me know in the comments! Do you have any uplifting experiences of networking to share, perhaps when you reached a turning-point of being able to enjoy this integral element of career-building?