For this post, you have to time travel with me.
Year 2005 – 2007: First step towards networking
I was an MBA candidate and trying to learn management lessons. But unlike others I never focused on books, case studies and theories. I wanted to experience everything that successful managers and / or entrepreneurs experienced, which made them so special that they appear in the books of management. But I didn’t know where to start from. I had no business background and no contacts. Luckily, I came to know from the college faculties that my college was hosting an NHRD chapter. HR was not my specialization but I decided to offer my services as a volunteer. When I approached the faculties, I was one of the 2 volunteers and early student members of NHRD for the year.
For next couple of months, I assisted my faculties and went to MIDC (Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation) Industrial Area in Nagpur. We discussed and enrolled many HR professionals from different industrial streams. It gave me an opportunity to visit and see the work environments, industry setup and most important network with executives of MNCs. I learned that professionals help each other to grow, they share knowledge, they discuss common problems / challenges together. I also learned how to keep the competition and professionalism isolated and do the justice to both of them. We organized many monthly meetings and each meeting / session had many lessons (practical, life lessons) shared by executives.
It was a big and difficult step for me. Being an introvert, it doesn’t come naturally to me to approach a stranger and start the conversation. But I thank myself (myself @ 2006) for what I did. I came out of the shell for the first time.
Year 2007 – 2013: Forgetfulness and Ignorance
What happens to a graduate when he gets a decent job? He parties hard and enjoys every bit of life. I did it too. I slacked on networking and focused on personal and technical skills upgrade. I didn’t realize when I shut myself in the shell again. I limited myself to close friends and colleagues only. I changed my style of networking a bit. I focused my networking to technical communities and online forums. I participated and helped fellow professionals but I was slowly losing the personal touch.
Year 2013 – 2014: The Awakening
I shared in my previous blogs that in 2013, I quit my job abruptly due to personal reasons. When I came back to India, I was looking for helping hands and found none. I knew I made some mistake somewhere. Slowly and steadily I resumed on networking at personal level. With each business visit (onsite or domestic) and with each contract, I made new friends. Please note, I said “friends” not connections. I learned to start the conversation and tried hard to overcome the inherent limitations of introversion. Directly or indirectly, eventually I started receiving business leads from my friends.
If someone asks me to summarize my learning, I have few learning to share…
- Offer help before asking for help. Don’t just offer help; mean it and help wholeheartedly.
- The quantity in network doesn’t matter. The quality (designation, roles, specialization) in network doesn’t matter either. The willingness to help in your network matters the most.
- Keep your selfish reasons for networking aside. Try to connect with a human as a human.
- We are social animals. We are programmed (genetically) to help each other.
- Your help will have a cascading effect in the network. It will come back to you someday unexpectedly.
I welcome your thoughts. Please drop me a line and stay connected.
This article is part of blog series Life on a roller coaster. It’s originally published at Dhanu IT | Blogs – The Official Blog of Dhanu IT Services. The author Devendra Shirbad aka ‘Dev’ uses an analogy of a roller coaster to represent the success, failure, challenges and fun in his entrepreneurial ride.