Professional Networking

Building Relationships for Mutual Benefit

© iStockphoto/RonTech2000

It's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you know that counts.

Maybe that sounds unfair or calculating, but think of it another way: If no one knows about your skills, talents, and projects, who's going to help you make the best of them?

In today's world, where people often need to work together in loose partnerships to achieve their goals quickly, "knowing the right people" is more important than ever. So the ability to develop and maintain a broad network of "business friendships" is a critical skill for every career professional.

People with strong networks get more things done more effectively; they learn from others with different knowledge or experience; and are able to use their network as they seek to move on in their careers, whether in a planned way or if a crisis looms.

When it comes to our personal lives, most people actively develop and maintain their network of friends and family. They enjoy the social interaction and the support that such relationships can provide. The same principles hold true at work, yet we're often reticent about actively networking: Perhaps we fear we would be "using" other people, or we are daunted by the prospect of having to "work" a room of strangers at a conference or event.

The good news is that networking doesn't need to be difficult or a chore. It can be an enjoyable and rewarding part of your professional development. You're probably already part more networks than you realize. It's a matter of recognizing the mutual benefits and building from there. Read on to find out how to build and make the most of your network.

What is Networking?

Networking means

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