Networking for Everyone

Effective networking is a vital part of achieving business and personal success. Yet many professionals find networking a challenge.

During National Networking Week 2011 from Monday 1 August to Friday 5 August, AIM is encouraging managers to develop an approach to networking that works for them, with the help of international speaker, Devora Zack.

Ms Zack is the author of Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed and the Underconnected. She is also AIM's 2011 National Networking Week Ambassador and will visit all of AIM's regional centres in an action packed Queensland tour.

In Ms Zack's experience, those who dislike networking believe they are no good at it. The key is to work with, rather than fight against, an individual's natural communication style.

"Because networking is often cast as a high contact, flashy exercise, those who employ a higher touch approach often feel that they're not working hard enough or making enough connections," Ms Zack said.

"What a lot of people don't realise is that their perceived weaknesses may actually be great strengths when it comes to forging new and lasting professional connections," she said.

Rather than labelling certain personality traits as liabilities for networking, Ms Zack encourages people to acknowledge their personal preferences and build an approach to networking that fits in with who they are. This will inevitably make the practice of networking more enjoyable.

Her book offers specific, tangible and sometimes counterintuitive techniques to help managers get through networking situations. It promotes a slower, more deliberate and more genuine approach to networking.

Ms Zack also acknowledges the power and importance of networking.

"I've been a management consultant for 15 years and speak to thousands of people annually. Of all the different leadership topics I cover, the concept of networking, particularly for people who classify themselves as bad networkers or people who hate networking has helped people the most, and changed their lives in the most positive ways," Ms Zack said.

"Networking allows you to achieve your potential and reach big goals. Whether you want to find a new job, make a new professional or personal contact, improve the world, expand your influence, seal a deal, build a reputation or grow a business, networking will further your aim. I have never met a person who did not benefit tremendously from learning how to network – on his or her own terms," she said.

AIM National Networking Week is an annual initiative bringing focus to the importance of peer to peer learning through networking, personal and business development and a general contribution to the leadership landscape in Australia.

A range of other networking events and activities will be hosted around Queensland and Australia. For a full list of networking offerings, a comprehensive set of networking resources and to list your own networking function, visit AIM's National Networking Week website at www.networkingweek.com.au.

AIM defines networking as:
Networking is connecting with others without the need for immediate gain. It is a proactive investment in the future aimed at building a relationship with another well before assistance or support is sought.