I don’t know about you, but when I think about “professional networking” there are actually two possiblities that come to mind. The first one I’m going to mention is not one that occurs, particularly, naturally to me – probably, because many people would not include my profession, that of sales, in this definition of “professional”.
This particular definition of being “professional” relates to specific occupations that are, generally, regarded as being “the Professions”.
These occupations, or career paths, usually involve many years of formal study at University to obtain a relevant degree and then, subsequent, “on the job” training and work experience before an individual can become formally recognised by the relevant professional body.
These occupations include those of being an accountant, a solicitor, a doctor, an architect or any number of similar types of occupation. The main criteria for inclusion being a long period of formal training.
When using this definition, “professional networking” creates an image of many individuals from the same occupation meeting with their fellow “professionals” through the various professional associations or organisations. Whilst networking amongst your peers may be a good thing to do to keep up with what’s happening within your profession, it’s not, exactly, what I had in mind when I created networking-in-business.com.
When I think about “professional networking” I have just one thing in mind. I think about all manner of business people, from different industries and professions, coming together and conducting their business networking in a highly professional manner.
Simple! But what do I mean by “a highly professional manner”?
“Professional networking” is networking conducted with a specific plan, or goal, in mind. That plan, or goal, is specific to the individual doing the networking but will vary, depending on the nature of the networking event that is taking place.
Not only that, but the individual involved will understand and observe certain “rules” of networking. These rules include;
- Not trying to sell to the people they meet.
- Showing a genuine, sincere interest in the people they meet.
- Being focused on how they can help, or add value to, the people they meet.
- Being focused on building a relationship with those individuals that relate to their plan, or goal.
- Undertaking to follow up with those people that relate to their plan, or goal.
- Understanding that the relationship they want to achieve with these people involves the cultivation of confidence and trust.
Professional networkers realise that the most beneficial relationships that they can build are long term ones. Relationships that will blossom and bear fruit over time. They can’t be forced, but they can be nurtured.
These long term relationships are explored further on our Referral Networking page.