Becoming a savvy networker


Most of the opportunities to unlock success in life don’t come because of title or status. Most of the time—in fact, I’d say 99.9 percent of the time—they come through relationships. This is one reason networking is such a valuable tool for every aspect of your life. However, if we’re not careful, networking can quickly become all about self-promotion and abusing relationships to get ahead.

As with most things, there’s a right and wrong way to go about networking. Today, I want to highlight five key ideas about networking. Applying these five principles as you look to make connections and build relationships will help you become the kind of networker who benefits from those connections and adds value to others:

1. Never eat alone. This is mainly about the principle that building relationships takes intentionality. Because your network is far more powerful than your résumé, you should seek to enjoy building friendships. In his book "Never Eat Alone", Keith Ferrazzi explains the importance of being intentional about networking to achieve success.

2. Network as a way of life. Major advancements in your life are going to come as a result of knowing someone rather than something. Throughout your life, it will be important to invest in relationships just as much as you invest in your career. Making the commitment to view networking as a way of life now will establish the habit as you grow throughout your career.

3. Networking isn’t a business transaction; it’s a life transaction. If you’re networking solely as a way to get ahead in your career, you’re going about it all wrong.

4. Your networking mentality should never focus on what potential friends can offer you; instead it’s what you can offer them. This is the best way to ensure that networking isn’t just about what you can get out of the relationship.

5. Networking is about building authentic friendships. Great things come from networking relationships that are based on authentic friendships. Remember, it’s about doing all you can for others and setting them up for success! When both people take this approach, everyone wins.

As a young leader, you have your entire life before you to make connections and build relationships. When you hold these principles close and make them part of your networking opportunities, you begin to understand the value that networking can have in your life.

What are some other principles young leaders should know about networking? How have these principles shaped your relationships, career, and life?