Networking: bridges to success

In an increasingly competitive business world, it is essential to have a good network of professional relationships

In an age of social networking with a million virtual friends, it is increasingly important to strengthen real social networks in the professional sphere. Knowing potential customers, suppliers or business partners is essential for the survival and development of the business. Even more so in lean times, like today.

Establishing connections between people willing to do business is not a new strategy. Secular entities such as Masonic lodges, Rotary groups or Lions have for decades used the strategy of promoting cross-cutting connections, that is, people with different professional profiles. In socializing, they end up doing business. In the 21st century, the practice gained a name in a foreign language, networking (in a free translation, networking).

In this interview, the executive director of BNI (one of the largest groups in this segment in the world) at Baixada Santista, Alexandre Mantovani, details the functioning of networking.

After all, what is networking?

Alexandre Mantovani- It is to develop a network of connections between people willing to support each other.

Is it aimed only at professionals or employees of companies as well?

Mantovani – It is intended for anyone, at any age. What will differentiate is the common goal that a given network has. For example, for entrepreneurs or professionals, a good networking is one that the profile of the participants is equivalent to. In this way, there will be a synergistic exchange of information and even opportunities. For a retiree, an interesting networking would be with people who like to travel, visit good restaurants or theaters. For an employee of a company, for example, he can participate in a network with other professionals, inside or outside the company, linked to interests, methods, techniques or practices that can further improve his professional qualifications. Networking is not necessarily related to financial gains.

Who should be in your network?

Mantovani – The one that you could help in some way and that could help you too. An active network is a living network, where there is an exchange between the members. If you participate in any network where you have obtained much more advantage than what you are offering, beware! At any moment people will notice your lack of commitment and very soon this source will dry up.

What can a member expect from a networking group?

Mantovani – Before “expecting something”, he must first feel that he can be useful for that group. The return will be a consequence of the commitment he has with the other members. The more people he helps, the more people will help him. This is the universal law of return and reciprocity. And speaking of groups, networking is not about quantity but about quality. There are small groups in professional organizations that are more committed to each other than large groups. Before joining a group, first research its results, philosophy, mission, traditions and trajectory. Unfortunately, the word networking has been widely used by groups that do not have a genuine interest in helping people.

And what can not wait?

Mantovani – May things happen simply as if by magic. If you don’t work on your network it won’t work for you! That simple!

What is the importance of face-to-face contact?

Mantovani – The importance is given for several reasons, but I quote mainly because it is an intrinsic need of the human being to relate to other people, to live in community, to feel alive. Face-to-face contacts are warmer and through them we can get to know people as they really are. The value of the eye to the eye, the symbolism of a handshake and the warmth of a hug are irreplaceable. This helps to develop our empathy with people.

To make an efficient networking

Be yourself – People must like you for who you really are.

Listen more and speak less – People are more interested in telling their deeds, listen and earn the right to speak as much as they want;

Offer help – The more people you help the more people will help you;

Respect differences – Showing respect, affection and friendship is an excellent way to bring people close to you;

Be grateful – People will be extremely happy to learn that they have been able to help you in some way. Gratitude is one of the most noble feelings of the human being and inflates the hearts of both: those who are grateful and those who are grateful.

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