But networking as a skillset shouldn’t be relegated to just entrepreneurs. Professionals can also benefit greatly from networking, and it could even be instrumental in career advancement and getting top leadership positions.
Are networking and strategic connections essential for your leadership growth?
Ebere Akadiri recently sat with Aylin Bumin, former District Marketing Manager at West Europe UPS and current Marketing Director……., in our Inspiring Women Leaders Interview Series. Aylin shared how networking has helped her throughout her career. She shared, “I think that networking has helped me in different ways. When I have a business challenge or take any critical or important decision, then I go back to my network and my connection because you need a diversity of thoughts. When you have a challenge ahead, or you need to take critical decisions. So that’s why in case you’ll have an expert from a diverse perspective, then you will hear people approaching the challenge from different angles that will make you reflect, think about, and, and finally make the best decision of yours for yourself”.
Below, we share some tips by Aylin on how to network as a professional and how it can help your career grow:
- Don’t Just Focus on What’s Going on In Your Cubicle: Performing your role is incredibly important in the work environment, but if you want your career to grow and advance, you have to make connections with the people around you. Aylin says, “Typically, when we start our career journey, we are very focused on performance, driving results, streamlining processes, and focused on our performance and stay in our cubicle. But this is not going to bring you advancement in your career”. Make sure to also connect with your colleagues and leaders as they can offer you the guidance and help needed to advance in your field.
- Think of Yourself as a Brand or a Product: Aylin shares this inspiring tip for professionals trying to network. Think of yourself as a brand or a product when networking with fellow professionals and leaders in your organisation. She explains, “you need to work on creating your brand and gain followers, sponsors and leaders who will help you to the way up, show the path and sometimes give you critical feedback. With these connections, you’re going to grow, and get vital feedback about this brand that you develop inside your organisation”.
- Be Proactive in Networking: As Aylin mentions, networking cannot happen if you just wait for it. You have to be proactive, get out of your cubicle and start conversations with people; real conversations will make for a strong connection. She goes on to explain, “I’m going to read a quote from Dale Carnegie about them networking. It says that you can make more friends in two months by becoming interesting to other people than you can in two years, by trying to get other people interested in you. You cannot wait for your network to expand (on its own)”.
- Know Yourself: Aylin says that it is also important to know yourself and know your needs when making connections. This will help guide you in choosing who and how to connect with people and make strong professional links, and not just a bunch of new LinkedIn friends you don’t know much about. “You need to know yourself and your needs, and we all have development areas. You need to be fully aware of these and select your connections accordingly because if you want to leverage your network and get the most out of it, then the people you select should be able to support you in the areas you need”.
Aylin shares more helpful advice on networking for professionals and how the pandemic has redefined how we network, which you can hear in Rise and Lead’s full interview. Watch the video below to watch Aylin’s Inspiring Women Leaders episode.
Ebere Akadiri is an accomplished entrepreneur and an advocate for women in leadership. Her passion to inspire others to achieve their goals drove her to found Rise and Lead Women along with her co-founder, Poonam Barua. Their mission is to inspire women to take the lead in closing the gender gap in workplaces and in business.