How much networking do you actually do?
What kind of networking will work and when?
How important do you consider your network?
How does networking improve what I do and how I do it?
These are all questions that any professional should be asking themselves as networking is massively important to supporting your professional development, making contacts, learning from others and having a trusted circle of fellow professionals who will share what they know with you. It's this collective intelligence that really makes me open to all sorts of networking opportunities and whilst I'm an introvert and probably prefer online communication, face to face is of course the primary way in which networking takes place and is most people's preferred method of meeting.
Social technologies liked the DPG Community and LinkedIn do offer the ability to connect with people online and I've met people through this Community and built relationships purely online and when we have met face to face it's been like meeting old friends so online networking is still a viable and interesting way to meet people, develop relationships and crowd surf information quickly and easily. You can take a look at our post on over in the Becoming a Smarter Learner group on the importance building a personal learning network.
Your connections here in the DPG Community are called your Personal Learning Network and you can connect with those in your groups and the wider community via people's profiles.
It can take some getting used to and building your confidence to reach out and connect with others is something that takes time, likewise it can feel a bit uncomfortable going to face to face events where you don't know anyone and meeting people in that sort of environments. Events like L&D Connect and the Social HR Conference are great places to meet new people and learn new things and most of the CIPD conferences have areas to meet new people in a 'speed dating style' which can be fun.
Like anything it takes time to build strong and fruitful relationships, you get out what you put in from any networking event and then the hard work of cultivating those relationships begins. This again is where online can really help as once you've met face to face you may not get the opportunity to meet again for some time. If they are on Twitter or LinkedIn you can keep the conversation going which helps you stay in touch and keep connected.
You don't even need to meet someone to benefit from their knowledge as there are so many blogs from industry leading think tanks and practitioners that there is rich and vibrant L&D / HR community out there that you can tap in to, learn from and become better at what you do.
This two part post from Training Zone caught my eye today hence this post and I'll post part two when it's published.
The ability to connect with others, meeting and sharing with other like minded professionals and attending events has helped shape my development in L&D and is responsible for what I'm doing now. It has introduced me to new ideas and given me confidence to try new things and share my experiences with others.
I truly value my social networks and I value the face to face time I get to spend with my fellow professionals and friends.
So what's your experience of networking?
What sorts of things do you do?
Is it an area you need to get better at?
What are the barriers or challenges you find?
I'd value your thoughts in the subject