”NETWORKING is the single most powerful marketing tactic to accelerate and sustain success for any individual or organization!”
– Adam Small
When I was asked 15 years ago what is the most important in finding a job, I used to answer as an average Bosnian citizen: connections, “štela”, which, from the perspective of a teenager with only a high school degree and whose parents were without connections in VIP circles, it seemed to be the only way. That’s how I thought at the time.
Since a socially-responsible student is expected to work for free, of course, I didn’t want to betray this tradition and applied to volunteer at the Common Youth Program of the Soros Foundation. Originally my intention was to understand how organizations operate, to gain a few friendships, to write some correspondence, but it turned out that after only three months of volunteering I got a job. It had a low salary but many chances to grow.
Since then a decade and a half has passed. Today I am actually the product of the successes, but also the failures that have marked my period of maturing. I’ve learned a lot and, most of the time, the hard way. Today I know that you cannot wait for a job, nor seek it through a public call, even though persistently applying to job advertisements can yield a positive result.
Most of my jobs instead came from a network of contacts that I’ve gained through different jobs in various companies: client, employer, co-worker, vendor, I was engaged on different sides from which I acquired the unique skills of observing business from all angles.
1. Contact base and business expansion Each contact that I’ve tried to establish via email or phone call in the past, I would replace today with a direct meeting. A firm handshake and a smile are often better than a convincing and well written email.
2. Creation of new opportunities You never know who will you cooperate with and where your business will take you. It happened to me that in a certain moment I need that exact person from whom I least expected it.
3. Creating new connections It does not matter what you know, it’s important who you know. OK, I would not agree that knowledge is an irrelevant factor but I would definitely confirm that there are people who do and know a lot, but they do not have the opportunity to show what they know … Without good networking and suitable partners, it is difficult to develop your best idea.
4. Free Advice and Informal education Some of the best business advice that I’ve received was from people that I’ve meet casually, through an informal chat. Mostly of these were suggestions for solutions from first-hand experience, and not some imaginary model.
5. People’s positive energy A positive attitude and positive stories are contagious. Constantly hearing about how it is all dark, over time puts darkness over your reality, discouraging you in personal and professional endeavors. On the other side, most of my networking acquaintances have very different life attitudes, which has inspired me to new and better professional beginnings.
6. To be in the right place at the right time Networking events bring together a large number of extremely open-minded individuals. If you attend appropriate events, new opportunities arise, and there is an opportunity to meet people who you can work with or learn from. Being in the right place at the right time helped me to get involved in the implementation of numerous projects. It is interesting that people I met and of whom I had very low expectations, helped me the most professionally.
7. Create new friendships Professions bring people together and often permanently connect them. Joint business successes are an excellent foundation for incredible friendships.
“To sum up, networking is the basis for both professional as well as personal development. This is a model that knows no boundaries and has been tested in any part of the world. For results sometimes you have to have patience, but they will definitely come. I stand by that.”
Salih Musić, Restart.ba | Managing Director