Expert Manufacturing Advice tailored for step-by-step implementation in the workplace. Small Manufacturers, Machine Shops and CAD Engineers improve and thrive with our hands-on help. Networking Personal Styles: Learn from others whilst Developing Yours Essential Leadership and Management for Engineers
'Hands-on Help for SMEs' and Smart Technical People'
Different people will network in different ways depending on what is comfortable and natural to them. Networking is often associated with doing business and making connections for business reasons (and ultimately commercial advantage). If this is your aim, networking events may focus more on tangible objectives and outputs. This is fine and adds purpose. However, this should be balanced with a willingness to help others just as much, as well as an emphasis on listening to what others have to say.
For others networking is more about ideas, innovation and creativity. People enjoy the opportunity to find out what’s new, what the state of the art is and how things are evolving. For engineers this is particularly relevant as technology continuously moves forward, sometimes at a fast pace depending on which sector you are in. Networking at seminars, exhibitions and conferences can ensure you stay abreast of change. Put in place mechanisms to feed the information back, so your organisation gets the full benefit of this. Ideas include email reports, short presentations, blog entries etc.
Whatever your style or driver for networking, you should aim to learn from others. This feeds into your overall career development. You may want to consider more formal networking arrangements such as mentoring and coaching. Alternatively learning and knowledge-based networks are particularly useful for engineers. Having access to technical experts with specific expertise is invaluable for specialist problem solving.
Networks should be long term, rather than short term arrangements. People appreciate it more and don’t feel as though they are being exploited.
When networking with others, be honest about your aims and what you want to get out of the event. Being honest enables people to identify what they have in common with you, as well as potentially pin-pointing how they can assist. It also encourages general conversation and so reduces the chances of those awkward silences! As with your introductory lines, it often sounds more natural and fluent if you mentally prepare a few lines. Other advantages include increased confidence and clarity when you deliver your message
To see how effective your networking style is, why not ask for feedback from those around you – people you are comfortable with and who you can trust to be honest. They may highlight areas you need to specifically work on, as well as have positive news about aspects of your style that are effective. Update your network map over time. How successfully are you maintaining existing contacts as well as opening new doors? Is your networking activity still strongly aligned to your career goals?
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