Networking is key to effective workplace relationships

29 May 2024 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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With daily business often overrun by agenda-led meetings and networking events driven by the exchange of business cards – the need for authentic communication is growing rapidly. Entec Si chief executive Eman Al-Hillawi explains why networking is key to effective workplace relationships.

In business, professional networking is an ideal way to get in front of a specific group of people. The usual approach is to focus on an immediate goal, such as gaining new business or employment opportunities. However, this narrow approach could drive potential relationships away. Instead, it’s important to remember that people respond to authenticity in networking situations.

By removing the goal of immediate financial gain, individuals will reap the benefits of authentic interactions, particularly when networking across a variety of sectors or seniorities.

Networking is key to effective workplace relationships

Through building and nurturing organic relationships, individuals can gain a unique and organic perspective of the market, including any pain points that different sectors are facing. It is at this point that individuals can choose to offer their services in response to a specific issue rather than taking a scattered or generalised approach to new business.

It’s important to note that the means for building and nurturing relationships are constantly evolving, as technology and social attitudes continue to change. Since the pandemic, people are meeting face to face a lot less, whether that's peers, clients or customers, which has meant that organic conversations or ‘water cooler moments’ have become few and far between.

With the rise of hybrid working, everyday conversations have been replaced with agenda-led meetings, with little room for small talk. That’s why it’s so important for people to schedule in time to visit the office or clients in person, and prioritise attending regional, national and trade networking events to get in front of the right people and encourage organic conversations.

But authenticity is not just about engaging in organic conversation: personal branding is also a ‘buzzword’ that has taken over the corporate world in recent years. Some might assume personal branding is all about being assertive in a social environment and put pressure on themselves to portray themselves as something they are not. Instead, personal branding is all what makes a person different to everyone else and can be drawn from life experience and core values. To truly resonate with people, it’s essential that your personal brand is authentic to who you are, your goals and career aspirations, instead of acting as a mask that hides the true you.

Creating good professional relationships isn't just about selling, and people are more likely to resonate with someone they feel is true to themselves. It’s important to share values, goals and skills with people rather than going into networking scenarios with a planned sales pitch.

Although the way people communicate is changing, networking is still a crucial part of business, so understanding what people respond to and how to approach conversations is key. Whether this is done by frequently catching up with clients to gain a better understanding of pain points and areas for additional support or attending networking events to find new business contacts or employment opportunities, authenticity will pay off in the long run.

Eman Al-Hillawi is CEO of Entec Si, an award winning business change consultancy firm.