Networking is a word that has a very broad meaning. Many definitions have been brought forward but basically, they all point to the same thing. From a layman’s point of view, networking is the ability to use social situations that arise naturally in a gainful manner.
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This means that a person utilizes the social meetings whether planned or otherwise, to form the basis for contacts that could be used for business purposes. One definition has described networking as the intentional creation of a platform for sharing information, goods, and services in a way that benefits an individual both at personal and professional levels. The main idea is to use ones’ position to create connections that are later used to make things easy (Zofi and Meltzer, 2010).
From the foregoing, networking hence starts from making contacts of whatever nature. The contacts are then used to promote something of value which could be a commodity or service. The person involved firmly seeks what he/she needs and given the opportunity, serves others wholeheartedly. A major core value in networking is the element of giving. It is human nature to give expecting a favor in return but in networking, one gives with no strings attached. The joy of networking is the satisfaction of serving others. In fact, networking is about how life is supposed to be.
Our relationship with other people is shaped by four types of networking. Personal networks that include family and friends top the list. This type has the strongest inclination to social aspects and a party chooses the dimension the networks take. At this level, however, the exchange of help and support is the key thing. Organization networks are workplace oriented. They focus on the important people that could be relied on in the workplace for success to come about.
These are normal people with influence whether open or hidden. Professional networks are inclined to work’s knowledge and skills. They are about the competence levels among colleagues that could be within or without organizations. The last type is strategic networks that have to do with contacts and connections that are external (Zofi and Meltzer, 2010). One is interested in knowing about the happenings in other organizations and liaising with them for success.
Stages of networking
In getting, a person will create a network in order to get something from the other party. This part is crucial in portraying human nature. The balancing comes in when this person who is getting feels the urge to be of value to the other person. One ends up giving more than he/she initially received.
Exchanging is a culmination of stage one. When one gets something, the turn for the other person to receive comes by. This becomes the exchange of goods and services. A relationship crops out of this exchange and a network is built.
At the understanding stage, one is primarily concerned with letting other people know his/her needs and also taking time to learn theirs. One has to know the information, ideas, or resources to release to the established contact. This stage is important as far as the sustainability of the relationship is concerned. Failure to understand one another could lead to a collapse of the network.
The mutual benefit being the highest level indicates the maturity of the relationship. At this stage, each party has gained full confidence in the other and is comfortable recommending it to other people. This could be done with a counterpart in a different facility mostly on an issue benefiting the two organizations (Zofi and Meltzer, 2010).
Zofi, Y., & Meltzer, S. (2010). Networking skills to make personal connections. Long-Term Living. 1(1), 42-43.