Get networking to get ahead

is an essential skill for people who are serious about progressing, writes
Stephanie Sparrow

of the HR profession is unnecessarily reluctant to network. So says David Butcher,
director of the general management programmes group at Cranfield School of
Management and author of  the newly
published Smart management – using politics in organisations.

book refers to networking as "the motor of political fluency" which
helps generate support and identify key issues but he is worried that HR
professionals are being left behind.

tells "HR professionals don’t seem to understand the
subject very well – either for their careers or for achieving what they need to
get done within their jobs."

to this lack of knowledge is a self-defeating prophecy. Many HR people think
that the rest of their organisation doesn’t see them as important, and so don’t
project themselves as someone worth networking with. This means they deny
themselves access to people of influence or become excluded from the
information loop.

advises "getting into the airspace of the right people," but as an
expert on the cut and thrust of corporate life, stresses the distinction
between cosying up to the boss and good networking. The latter happens when you
are the purveyor or holder of valuable information.

useful, agrees Network UK member Brigit Egan who believes that networking –
whether it be at the annual company conference or by the coffee vending machine
– should be grounded in good behaviour.

is director for the north for Coutts Consulting Group which works with
individuals and organisations in change and is winner of the Woman of
Achievement Award 2000.    

genuine, be yourself and always offer something in return," she says.
"There may be some way you can help the other party and ensure that it is
a win/win situation."

agrees that HR professionals need to network within their own organisations to
ensure that they have the ear of other decision makers, and share ideas with
their peer group outside four corporate walls but she also values an even wider
networking circle. Monthly meetings of Network UK, which is a women’s business
association of professionals from different environments has helped her here.

is a vital part of managing one’s career," she says, "and HR people
need to build a networking database not only of senior managers within their
organisations but also from outside, such as informal mentors who may be from
other professions, or neighbouring firms in a business park."

may take time, but it is well-spent. No one should feel selfish doing this and
should remember that it can bring benefits to the business she says. Networking
is a way of finding out what’s new and topical and this can be helpful to your

in return she says, "Be someone who others want to keep up with and want
to hear from."

though the current concept of networking came into its own in the jittery 1970s
when a wave of job-searches and job losses demonstrated the value of contacts
who could help with a career move, Americans are traditionally seen as its
originators of networking, so sought the views of
Pennsylvania-based HR specialist and business author Peter R Garber.

is manager of affirmative action (known in UK as equal opportunities) for
utilities giant PPG Industries in Pittsburgh 
and author of books such as Every working person’s survival guide.

reminds us that most of the best jobs are not on the open market but found
through networking.

is an inverse ratio relationship," he tells
"Approximately 90 per cent of job seekers use the open job market such as
newspaper ads or internet sites but only 10-20 per cent of the jobs are to be
found there. Conversely, through networking, 90 per cent of the total number of
jobs available are to found by only about 10-20 per cent of job seekers using
this means."  

Garber sees it, by networking you are not just promoting your profile, but
safeguarding your future and as portfolio careers have become the by-word for
the new millennium, networking is definitely a key skill.


1  Do it regularly and keep a database of those
with whom you have networked.

2  Keep in touch with those on your database
and always seek to expand it

3  Use it to research other peoples’ expertise
and to promote your own

4  Use it to be genuinely helpful – you reap
what you sow

5  Network outside your organisation as well as
within it. Peer groups and social contacts offer many valuable perspectives.

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