Relationship-Building: Networking

Networking, the art of building alliances, is a critical skill for employees at all levels and in all job roles. It is often said, It's not what you know, but WHO you know." This maxim is not completely true - skills and knowledge are also critical for job success, but there is a ring of truth to it. Most positions are filled through referrals from employees' networks.

Many people are intimidated by the word "networking" because they feel they don't have the personality type and/or skills to pass out business cards to a roomful of strangers or function like a social butterfly. Understand that there are many ways to network and it is less important how you do it compared with doing it at all. Some people feel more comfortable networking one-on-one rather than in large groups. Rather than worrying about what to say when networking, focus on asking people about themselves and their work. View networking as getting to know others and letting others get to know you.

Populating Your Network

The people in your network can:

  • Help you solve a difficult problem
  • Provide perspective
  • Teach you new things
  • Support your efforts
  • Inform you of new opportunities
  • Celebrate your successes
  • Give you valuable feedback
  • Help you relieve stress

Your network should include people with a variety of connections to you, and who serve you in different ways, such as:

  • People with technical knowledge you need
  • Social contacts
  • Peers
  • People with external perspectives
  • People with business knowledge
  • People with organizational awareness
  • People with knowledge of your customers
  • People with backgrounds different from yours (cultural, gender, age, educational, occupational, etc.)

Building Your Network can be done in many different ways. These include:

  • Attending meetings and events on campus to meet new people
  • Attending meetings and events of your professional associations
  • Joining an online network, such as Linked In
  • Getting to know the colleagues in your department
  • Inviting colleagues to lunch, coffee, etc.
  • Working on cross-functional or cross-departmental teams
  • Attending training classes and programs
  • Volunteering to work on projects where your specific expertise is needed
  • Creating or joining communities of practice

Working Your Network

Networking is a two-way street: you want to solicit your network to get the information and assistance you need. You also need to be a source of information back to your network:

  • Share what you know
  • Share resources you are aware of
  • Offer insights, perspective, and feedback
  • Offer your skills and expertise
  • Look for opportunities to make offers and contributions
  • Maintain regular formal or informal contact with key members of your network, including when you don't need anything from them
  • Ask associates if they are aware of individuals with similar interests or who have what you are looking for, and ask if they would make an initial contact on your behalf

Social Networking

Online, or social networking, combines the traditional networking you do with the power of the Internet. It allows you to create a community of virtual contacts; people you never would have met any other way.

There are many sites devoted to business networking, and other sites that have a strong networking component, such as professional associations, alumni organizations, message boards, and on-line communities. Examples of social networking sites include LinkedIn, Fast Company Community of Friends, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo Groups.

Advantages:

  • There are thousands of discussion groups and community forums covering just as many subjects
  • Some people feel more comfortable, since the interaction is not face-to-face
  • Your contact may expand exponentially through the Internet
  • You get immediate responses
  • Everyone on the Internet is accessible to you

Pointers:

  • Initiate widely; continue selectively; cast a wide net for what you are looking for and then follow-up with the best prospects
  • Do not use an alias
  • Follow standard business etiquette
  • Bookmark favorite sites
  • Make sure to understand the privacy settings for the tool you are using so that you can protect your privacy and guard against people seeing your postings if you don’t want them to
  • Design your email signature so that it gives people a way to reach you on whatever type of site you use

Networking at Cal: Staff Associations

  • Berkeley has a diverse array of staff organizations, each with its own mission and focus. Together they work to offer individuals the opportunity to become more involved in campus life. The staff organizations keep you informed about important staff issues and maintain a network of support.
  • Many of the staff associations on campus are listed below. Visit the StaffOrg website to stay up to date on developments concerning staff associations. Involvement in staff associations can provide an avenue to gain experiences and exercise/build transferable skills.
Staff AssociationDescription
StaffOrg The StaffOrg website is designed to: allow existing or new staff organizations to register and create a web presence on the University of California, Berkeley campus; and to provide information to staff about the work of Berkeley's various staff organizations.
Alianza Dedicated to enhancing professional opportunities, increasing awareness and active participation in campus priority issues, and providing a supportive network with an emphasis on Chicano/a and Latino/a staff members. Monthly meetings; specific projects; and social events; Access to programs that enhance skills development, job information, and mentoring and employment advancement for staff.
Asian Pacific American Systemwide Alliance Promote the general welfare of Asian and Pacific American (APA) faculty, staff, and students on the Berkeley Campus.
Berkeley Facilitator Network The Berkeley Facilitators Network is devoted to cultivating the art and practice of facilitation on campus by providing a working group where colleagues can make connections, find support, receive training and share best practices on the topic of facilitation.
Berkeley Staff Assembly Creates community, champions staff interests, and provides opportunities for networking and development.
Black Staff and Faculty Organization To promote general prosperity of African-Americans at the University of California at Berkeley; to function as an informative organization in support of recruitment, career development and retention of our members; hold the campus administration accountable for maintaining its commitment to diversity and affirmative action; and to be an influential voice in supporting recruitment and retention of Africa -American students.
Business Process Analysis Working Group A forum for the discussion of business process analysis and associated methods, tools, and strategies. BPAWG brings the UC community of interest together to discuss how these disciplines intersect, interact and add value to each other.
Cal Assessment Network (to subscribe, send a message to c_a_n-join@lists.berkeley.edu) Offers the UC communities a forum where like-minded colleagues can make connections, find support, receive training and share best practices on the topic of assessment. Members meet monthly to discuss a broad range of topics, including but not limited to: assessment methods; learning outcomes; communicating about assessment; strategic plan evaluation; academic program reviews; Student Services assessment.
Chancellor's Staff Advisory Committee A confidential committee appointed by the Chancellor. Provides staff input into the university's decision-making processes including, but not limited to, development and modifications of policies and procedures that directly affect staff. CSAC acts as advisory to the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors on non-bargain issues, with the aim of helping to create a positive working environment for all staff.
LavenderCal Network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer employees. Includes staff, faculty, librarians, academic researchers, postdoctoral appointees, and visiting scholars; to encourage all LGBTQ staff and faculty to share experiences, resources, and energy.
Native American Staff Council Addresses the needs and concerns of Native American and Alaskan Native staff at the University of California, Berkeley. The Council functions uniquely as a network promoting cultural awareness and educating non-Native Americans on the campus and within the local Bay Area.
W6BB Amateur Radio Club To connect current and prospective amateur radio operators on campus. The club promotes Public Service, Recreation, Social Interaction, Training, and Publicity for amateur radio.