By Judy Carter

How many times have you heard “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”?  Often this statement is made in reference to someone that got a job or promotion that someone else doesn’t believe deserved it. 

Recently, I heard something much more profound and probably a better statement… “It’s not who you know, but who knows you and is willing to go to bat for you.”

Do you have people in your life that are willing ‘to go to bat for you’? 

The power of networking is extremely important to our ability to learn and grow.  Robin Sterneck (Highland Birch Group) and Denise Mills (LeaderFuelNow) state in Building Your Network that “Good networks can dramatically impact your quality, quantity and speed of work.  Without this network, you are left alone to perform, which will eliminate your ability to be a star contributor.  Networking is based on healthy relationship development.”

Sterneck and Mills suggest that we first take a good look at our current network and compare to our knowledge bank to determine our needs. 

1) What do you currently not know in your position that you should? 

2) What do you need to know in your career progression?

3) Who do you know that is willing to help or introduce you to others to obtain this knowledge?

For some of us, meeting new people is a daunting prospect.  For the extrovert this may come naturally, however, being an extrovert doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at connecting and conversations.  Your ability to relate on a professional or personal level is key to developing a network.  This is where emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in your networking. 

Emotional Intelligence seems to have emerged on the scene in recent years.  “Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.” (Mayer & Salovey 1997)

Simply put, emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (EQ) is an individual’s ability to identify, evaluate, control, and express emotions.  It’s believed that people with a high EQ make great leaders and team players.  They have the ability to understand, empathize, and connect with people around them.

According to Daniel Goleman in an article, The Five Components of Emotional Intelligence, someone with a healthy emotional intelligence is self-aware, self-regulated, is internally motivated, has empathy, and possesses social skills to manage relationships and build networks.

So, what’s next?

After assessing your network needs, engage!  Find opportunities to meet other people.  Talk to your current network and identify people in their network that you might like to know.  If there are companies that you’ve heard great things about, search online to find key people in roles that might be willing to connect with you.  Don’t just send a ‘friend’ request without context.  Let the person know why you are seeking to connect. 

People like to talk about themselves.  If you are the one seeking to broaden your network, don’t be the one doing the most talking.  Ask good questions and LISTEN to the answers.  If you are networking at an event (in person or online) where time is limited, ask if the person has time to meet with you again.  Schedule a time to connect within a day or two.    

If you are applying for jobs, make sure to have a solid group of references ready to go.  Always get permission to use referral contact information for perspective job opportunities.  Customize your reference list for the job you are seeking.  A good mix of personal and professional is always best.  Employers want to see and hear what kind of person you are, on and off the field.

Last, but not least, be memorable.  Create an environment where others want to be around you.  Be someone that others will go to bat for!

Judy Carter is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years of progressive experience with success in implementing, managing, and administering HR, Payroll and Benefits systems/solutions. She is currently the HR leader for a major transportation contractor with employees in eight states. Judy resides in Olathe, Kansas with her husband Casey. Her passion is coaching mid-level contributors and managers to their next level of management. For comments or questions email [email protected].