As humans, we need each other more than we think. Sure, time alone is great, and being able to sit in the silence comfortably enjoying your own company is a skill we all should have; but there is also wisdom in the proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”.
In this article, we’ll highlight the importance of networking professionally and how to network effectively for career opportunities and advancement (which includes tips like utilising corporate prepaid gift cards to your advantage).
That being said, it doesn’t always have to be business. If both of you are comfortable and it doesn’t involve any professional conflict of interest, there’s no harm connecting casually moving forward! Friendships are also important for your mental and emotional health, and we all know being mentally healthy does wonders to the work you produce.
The Importance of Networking
1. Personal Networking
Personal networking allows you to build relationships with individuals who can offer advice and support. Typically, your personal networking circle is made up of colleagues, mentors, and peers who work in similar fields or industries.
Building a strong personal network makes it easier for you to gain more insight of your current industry, and thus enable you to make better decisions when it comes to career changes or business collaborations.
It also comes in handy when you’re met with a career slump and you’re unsure of what to do next. A good mentor who can give you solid, actionable advice and a supportive peer who motivates you to overcome the obstacles play a huge role in propelling you forward - and these all come with effective personal networking.
2. Operational Networking
Contrary to the previous one, operational networks are usually built internally. We’re all familiar with the organizational cliche “We’re like family here”; which is potentially a red flag you have to be cautious about. However, it is crucial to build a strong working relationship with the people within your organization.
Work is stressful, and it does not help if the people you’re working with adds to the stress. Effective operational networking ensures that you and your colleagues have a mutual understanding of your end goals in the company, and you strive towards them together. Having a solid network system within your company opens doors to advancement opportunities when the higher management sees that you are capable of working well with anyone; and with more connections forged, you get to learn more about different working styles and habits that might help improve your own working practices as well.
Plus, it is not impossible to have genuine friendships at the workplace - it can be difficult, but with the right networking skills, it is possible. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go to work enjoying your colleagues' company instead of having to paste on a fake smile throughout the day?
3. Strategic Networking
Now this can be a little bit tricky; personal and operational networking applies to anyone that fits the criteria of being in your industry, but strategic networking refers to a nicher circle, and they can come from both your personal and operational networks. These include the higher-ups: the decision makers or the stakeholders of the company that will make or break your plan of climbing the career ladder; so this is especially important for the hustlers who are set on growing their career exponentially.
Now that we’ve covered the importance of networking, let us now learn how to network effectively.
How to Network Effectively
1. How to network effectively at an event
It could be a social event like an annual dinner or a more professional one like a conference, either way, it pays to network well, here’s how:
Before the event, be prepared.
Do your due diligence in researching the particular event you’re attending so you can know which network the attendees belong to. Learn more about those with whom you are looking to connect, and learn more about them either through word of mouth, or if they have a reputation, press releases are good resources.
Have a set of objectives you’d like to achieve through the particular event: Are you looking to get your resume across various different industries? Or are you planning to know more about your current one so that you can hone the necessary skills?
Knowing these leads you to network with the right people and ask the right questions during the event, which brings us to the next point.
During the event, be confident.
Not arrogant, there’s a difference. People do not want to connect with someone who is a know-it-all, they want to connect with someone who is curious, humble, and well-articulated - these come with confidence. We know it is difficult to walk up to someone you barely know and start striking up a conversation, but with enough preparation beforehand, things will fall into place naturally: you will anticipate the kind of replies you get based on your knowledge of how a person acts, and you will know how to answer accordingly, feigning confidence which will get better with practice.
After the event, follow up.
It is crucial to maintain an impression after the event that shows you are indeed interested in moving forward with what was discussed during the event. It could be a simple email introducing who you are, thanking them for a fruitful time, and then asking to keep in touch when any opportunities arise.
You can go an extra mile in maintaining the connection by giving them something to remember you by; instead of setting up a calendar invite for coffee next time, how about giving them an electronic gift card to a coffee shop? That will surely leave a memorable impression.
You just need to do more homework during your preparation by going to a gift card shop and browse through the online gift cards that will suit your target network. If you have limited the time and resources to do so, you can purchase gift cards online that are swappable with different brands that also provide Australian gift cards, and let your connection take their pick for your next meet-up.
Don’t we all get a little excited whenever the restaurant throws in free chips or says drinks are on the house? The same concept applies everywhere– it’s nice being rewarded when you weren’t expecting it, and when you offer this to your customers, you’ll grow customer loyalty in no time.
2. How to network effectively at work
As mentioned before, it is always better to work with the people who understand you rather than oppose everything you do or say; and the first step towards being understood is to understand. Take your time to learn about the different functions of the departments in your company, especially the ones you are going to work with most often. Once you know how different teams operate and know their preferred methods of working, you know how to tailor your working styles to match theirs, and consequently master how to effectively business network at the office.
Of course, it would be unfair for you to be the only one who tries to adjust according to everyone’s preferences, which means good communication is important if you want to network effectively at work. One good rule to follow is to see the situation as a problem both parties have to fix together, and not a one-sided problem whereby one party is superior to another. Always keep in mind that the end goal is to solve the problem at hand so both parties benefit, not putting someone down in order for another to be lifted up.
Maintaining a harmonious working relationship can be shown in other ways, too. You can show appreciation to your colleagues by getting them corporate gift cards. If you’re close enough to know your colleagues’ tastes, you can send a gift card online straight to their emails as a surprise; if not, you can still buy gift cards online that allows usage for other brands too!
For an effective top-down workplace network, you can acknowledge your employees’ hard work by rewarding top performers with corporate e-gift cards; or show that you care about them by sending them custom corporate gift cards during their birthday months.
3. How to network effectively on other platforms
Initiating conversations and socializing is daunting for most of us, but it is even more so for those who are more introverted. Fret not, here are some guides on how introverts can learn to network effectively.
How to network effectively on LinkedIn
Introverts may be quiet, but their minds can be loud and echo with fantastic insights. It just takes a lot of energy for them to voice them out during a conversation, but with professional platforms like LinkedIn, it takes away the burden of having to talk to someone else in order to get their ideas across. The same rule of doing your homework and knowing who to connect with applies in networking on LinkedIn.
You identify your audience, and once you get connected, you can start building your network by learning more about their insights and sharing yours in return. The key is to present your ideas in a way that is clear and easy to understand. Similar to writing an article, you should snag your audience’s attention within the first few lines to hook them into reading the rest of your ideas.
How to network effectively as creatives
LinkedIn is great for corporate-centered professions, but if you’re in the creative sector, you would most likely be on Instagram, Behance, Youtube, or Substack. In this case, the best way to network is - as the name suggests - to create. The work you put out will draw in like-minded people who share similar tastes with you, and once you get connected with such people, networking should be fairly easy - you don’t even really need to talk, you let your creations speak for themselves.
Networking Effectively with GIFTA
Gifting is more than just leaving someone with something to remember you by. It is also a way of telling them that you take their interests and passions seriously by going the extra mile and getting them something that supports those interests; and being taken seriously is one of the most effective ways to foster a strong network.
At GIFTA, we provide you with the platform to buy corporate gift cards for all your networking needs. Whether you’re looking to buy corporate gift cards for employees or corporate branded gift cards for your business partners, we have a plethora of corporate gift cards online for you to choose from.
Simply browse our website for inspirations of corporate gift card ideas, be it corporate prepaid cards, corporate services gift cards, or corporate visa gift cards. Alternatively, hit us up on the contact page and we will be happy to assist you in getting the best corporate gift cards online.