I have had a career within the Church that spans over 30 years. In that time the various roles and ministries I have been blessed to hold were all about service of others. And let’s face it, most people’s professional lives involve some degree of service of and for others, either directly or indirectly.
Networking, actively getting to know people both within and outside your organization, is essential to enhance the collaborative opportunities that might come your way and therefore potentially improve your output and productivity. Not only that, but you also make friends for life by increasing that circle of communion through your work.
So here are some of my top tips for networking.
1. Make sure to stay up-to-date
Have a constantly refreshed LinkedIn profile and or any other social media platform. Over the years I have built a substantial following on LinkedIn and when I publish a post or forward/comment on the post of another, the “impressions”[reactions triggered] are frequently in the hundreds.
2. Be genuinely curious about people
Do it not just because they may have a particular expertise that might be useful to you, but because they are made in the image of God.
3. Be mindful about the encounter
There is no such thing as a random encounter. God has a plan for you each and every moment of every day. So, when you meet persons for the first time, be grateful for making their acquaintance and be sure to communicate that to them so they know you truly appreciate what they’ve shared with you.
4. Follow up for effective networking
When you meet someone either at an event of some kind or on what Pope Benedict XVI calls “the digital continent” and they really make a strong impression on you, be sure to follow up with an appreciative email, text or phone call if you’ve exchanged contact details.
5. Adopt a professional introduction
In the light of tip #4, always make sure you have suitable and professionally styled/arranged business cards or whatever format of literature you choose to use to share with others about your work. It speaks volumes about how you see yourself and how you wish to be taken seriously and be respected by others. Even if it ends up being used as bookmark in someone’s novel – you never know if in the future your name and contact details might be useful to someone else in God’s good time and providence.
6. Conferences and meetings
Whether it’s a work-oriented event or a social occasion, if you’re in a room full of people you’ve never met before, and it feels a bit daunting to “work the room” especially if time doesn’t allow it, then look out for someone else who looks equally “lonely” or unsure of themselves. There will always be someone — approach them to start a conversation. Remember, you’re both there for similar reasons, so you already have a common interest before you even say “hello.” I’m a naturally shy person and even I know that showing sincere interest in a stranger pays real dividends.
7. Practice active listening
Networking is a two-way street. People need to know you’ve really taken on board what they have shared or contributed to a discussion. Of course, you’ve got many interesting things to tell others about your professional experience, but be humble in your attitude and speech and show that you’re willing to learn from others.
8. Use your contacts
Utilize your contacts, not just to lean on to help you in your work, but to assist others. One of the most rewarding blessings of being a good networker is the opportunities it gives you to connect different people you know who can and might be able to be of assistance, encouragement, and service to one another. There’s always a reason why you have come to know the many people you know, so be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be a source of unity and connectivity between others.
In this way you are helping to build up God’s kingdom because in some small way you are increasing grace-filled opportunities for others, not just to be better at their job, but to experience communion.
You also affirm others by introducing/connecting people to one another, especially if you haven’t been in touch with one of them for a while. It shows you cherish them, and that who they are and what they do matters.
Edmund P. Adamus is the newly appointed Head of Formation Center for the Order of Malta. He is also an education consultant to www.fertileheart.org.uk and www.emmausleadership.me
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