I learned early on the power behind networking. Through all my days on Wall Street, networking got me far. As Senior vice president of a consulting firm, I recruited high net worth retail brokers throughout the country;" it wasn't always what you know as much as WHO you know." Even today, as a single mom, networking plays a role in my life.
Networks can be informal or formal. They are usually a community of people that provide a resource. In simple terms, they are a connection.
Examples of informal networks are family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church and so on... All of which you have a casual relationship with, and a desired comfort level.
Examples of formal networks are bosses, supervisors, teachers, politicians, lawyers, Doctors, Government, and other organizations.
The difference between formal and informal networks are due to accountability and structure. Formal networks usually are backed up by money for they have a funding source especially if they are an organization.
More than one network combined forms a coalition. Coalitions offer a means for individuals and community groups to come together, to learn about common interests and concerns and for advocacy. They are powerful because they all have the same goal, they have a funding source and there is a power in numbers. Examples of coalitions are PETA, Citywide PTO, Green Peace, World Wild Life, and Coalition for the homeless.
All these organizations formed first through people as individuals coming together. They identified the needs in their communities to form agencies, which then lead to networks and coalition building. It all started with the interaction of people and one reaching out to another. With out that communication, nothing would get done. Networking on all levels is so important. Reaching out within your own company, or to another will always have its benefits now or later.
Whether its a simple hello, or a resume on file - don't keep putting it off. One never knows what tomorrow will bring. I always told my brokers no matter how successful they were, that's when they should most want to check out other opportunities because they weren't vulnerable then. Always keep an open mind.
No matter what you do now you can network anytime and anywhere you go. As a single mom, I now network in my day to day life. People I meet through others; at the bank or Doctors offices and other various appointments. I make my own opportunities now. I bought my house, and mortgaged it, through someone from networking; I bought my car through networking; I got my kids into a magnet school as soon as it opened its doors for the first time - through networking; I started writing these blogs through networking; and the list goes on...
So smile at your neighbor; wave to the mailman; say hello to a co-worker; keep a resume on file at a better job; introduce yourself to places you want to be, and watch how fast you get there. Don't let fear or intimidation keep you away. All it takes is a smile and a hand shake. Be the best that you can be, and thats what you will attract. Good luck to you all!