Energy efficiency in business
Time is a valuable commodity. No one wants to waste their time, with nothing to show for the expense. But we all know that sometimes in business, you have to speculate to accumulate. If you’re tendering for work, there’s no guarantee you’ll win it, but the hours and effort must be spent pulling a proposal together. Taking the time to create something impressive can often be obvious in the finished product, when compared against work that has been pulled together quickly, with little thought or imagination. Job seeking too is often seen as a lot of effort, for little return – perhaps even more so at the moment, in the highly-competitive employment market.
Where to put your energies?
Whether through confidence or time constraints, many people avoid networking if they can. But did you know that 65% of new jobs come via networking, while 35% of new jobs come from speculative letters, job boards and agencies? The simple fact is people spend far too much time on the 35% and not enough on the 65% – hence the gulf in the two methods’ efficiency.
Networking without borders
It is important not to make assumptions about your network. Even if a lot of your associates and contacts are not in your area (geographical or business sector), or you don’t think they will be useful, it’s not always the case. In the digital age, we don’t need to think quite so much about location – this much at least has been revealed by the lockdown and remote working – and sector knowledge is often transferable. Even if people you encounter in the course of networking may not seem an immediate fit for you and your sector, they may know someone who is, or they may know about an opportunity that can be conveyed remotely.
For some people, networking comes naturally. They may be used to dealing with a wide range of people in their daily working lives – or at least they have become adept at appearing to be natural communicators. Either way, they can begin conversations in an organic, non-awkward fashion and be interested in what other people have to say, as well as getting their own messages across. Being able to do this is an enviable skill. However, networking may be daunting for people who are not used to the environment, whether it’s in person, or more prevalently at the moment, online.
A two-way process
Starting with the right approach is really important. If you have a contact or a lead that you would like to pursue, arrange to meet (virtually) for a coffee. Make the tone light, conversational. Don’t go out of your way to ‘sell’ yourself. It needs to be a two-way conversation and relaxed. They might not have a job offer for you, but they might have useful knowledge or recommendations to share, on a route into your next role. If you get something out of the meeting, or even if you don’t, it’s time and energy well spent – and practice for your next one.