- You never know who can help you in the future;
- One more friend for you is one less foe for you;
- Socialising and networking is essential for you & your career.
I had a scholarship available for a new PhD student a few years ago. After I announced the scholarship, a person knocked on my door a few days after. That was a familiar face that I used to see in the kitchen of the School in the previous one or two years. The boy came in and asked for information about the scholarship. He later on, applied for the scholarship.
I remembered this boy because he was the person who never talked to other people in the kitchen. There was a big dinning table in the staff kitchen and I remember seeing that boy sitting there drinking coffee and playing with his laptop a couple of times. Due to security, we had the culture of asking who you are in our School when we saw a stranger because there was no access control over entry to the building during office hours; it’s open access to everyone.
After seeing that boy a couple of times over a few weeks, I said hello to him and asked what he was doing there. “I worked with Professor Y on a project to process some data.”, a short answer from the boy. That was the only conversation I had with that boy over that nearly two years. He never said hello to me in the kitchen when he saw me making coffee there; not once. How odd.
The boy came to interview for the scholarship. Eventually, he didn’t get it because the panel of interviewers found that he was smart but not good at ‘talking to people’. I was not comfortable working with a person who never said hello to me although he saw me many times in the kitchen before. There must be something wrong with that person, the panel agreed.
No matter how smart you are or how capable you are, you eventually need to sell yourself, either to your clients or to the senior management. If you are not sociable or even are just quiet, then people won’t know you and won’t want to work with you. You won’t have good opportunities to climb the corporate ladder; no mention how well you could promote yourself.
Socialising and networking does not only happen at networking events; it happens at daily occasions. Every time you meet a colleague or a new person, it’s time to socialise with the person. It could be about works, about interesting stuff (or sports), or about ideas. For many cases, it’s about sharing experiences of kid schooling, buying properties or even investment tips! Many business ideas came along after a few social drinks or coffees.
Presenting yourself and introducing yourself to other people is the first step of networking. Who wants to work with a person they have met for some time, but never said hello to? You’ve just labelled yourself quiet & not-social and have lost many opportunities.
Next time, say hello to your colleagues, to new friends and to old friends and care about them. Making one more ally is having one less foe because you never know whose help you may need on your road to success. This all starts from a hello and your mindset.
Dr. C. Richard Wu @ REEAConsulting.com
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