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There are few business assets as valuable as a strong
network of connections
Like the old saying goes, it's not what you know but who you know.
Unless you're operating in a very niche area or possess an exceptional
talent, the reality is there are many other people out there who could
do your job or provide the service you offer.
So why do people choose to do business with Person X rather than
Person Y? More often than not, we all prefer to do business with those
we've had the chance to meet and get to know a little. So the relevant
question for anyone ambitious isn't whether they should network but
rather what networking events they should attend and how to get the
most out of those events.
When considering whether it's worthwhile attending that Chamber of
Commerce meeting, trade show or industry event, there is only one
pertinent question: will it be a target-rich environment in terms of
potential clients or employers, or at least people who can refer you
to potential clients or employers? If the answer is yes, you should
try to attend.
Choosing where to network is easy compared to actually doing it (ask
anyone who's ever stood alone in the corner trying to figure out how
to connect with complete strangers). Rest assured, everyone else is
probably feeling similarly awkward and will respond positively if you
take the initiative and engage them in conversation.
Once you have struck up a conversation, avoid the temptation to
either indulge in the hard sell or talk yourself up. Like dating,
networking works best when you are being yourself. You should also be
thinking about how you can help the other person out, rather than just
what they can do for you – as with any relationship, the dynamic has
to be two-way for it to flourish.
There are few business assets as valuable as a strong network of
connections, especially when you experience a setback. An investment
of time and energy in starting and nurturing relationships with those
who can help you achieve your goals invariably pays off in the long term.