So often is the skill of networking overlooked in education, that when the student-professional transition occurs, it is often the ability to make contacts that separates generic students from successful ones.
In business studies, networking is key as most areas in business require an audience, client base, and long-standing relationships that will benefit and augment businesses. There are however, no ‘Networking’ studies and very few modules which specifically deal with gathering contacts in schools and universities.
Professor Maurits van Rooijen, Rector and Chief Executive of the London School of Business and Finance (LSBF), categorises networking using quantitive and qualitative hyponyms; the hypernyms of qualitative networking being far-reaching communicative methods such as social media; those of qualitative networking being more intimate, strategical, personal and relational means such as meetings and having lunch with potential business partners.
The quantitive methods of networking, van Rooijen submits, is important in the sense that one must reach a large audience in order to draw attention to oneself or one’s ideas. It does not however mean that one can rely on a large contact base to offer ideas or help one’s business.
Qualitative networking is far more taxing but far more rewarding. The benefits of having close relationships in business ventures are numerous. But how can you tell who will help you out when your business is failing? Or who will introduce you to someone else who may be able to help your business improve?
These kind of relationships are not always fostered in dog-eat-dog business, because in stressful situations, one is usually looking out for oneself. If however, you make the initial move to help out someone, they will remember that and when you inevitably hit a slump, they may even offer you a helping hand.
How do you know who to trust though?
This is one of many important questions regarding networking that van Rooijen would like to hear more of in business studies at both school and university level because it is compulsory in the business world, and in most other areas too, for relationships to be grown and nurtured.