Thursday, April 08, 2010

The power of networking in the corporate world

It is apparent that the corporate world is full of inequalities. And the inequalities are not merely in terms of hierarchies, pay scales, hiring norms et al. There are numerous other things that are supremely unequal. For example, there may be a bunch of people in one company doing the same job in one department. Yet, only 1 or 2 people end up getting the spotlight – this despite, the rest of the team doing no less in terms of contribution or output. And there are just a few individuals who get more opportunities in their careers, than others.

I have often wondered why these things are the way they are. And I am convinced that it is the ability to network within a firm that makes the difference in opportunities.

There are people in a team who are much better at presenting themselves and even better at being perceived, by the choicest people in the firm. These sorts of people tend to be vocal, aggressive, assertive, opinionated, highly flexible to get their things done etc. What they are also good at doing, is project their outputs/deliverables to the target audience in an extremely convincing manner. Plus, the ability to have a general conversation on anything with the power-that-be, always helps.

There are other tricks to this networking as well - one of them being coffee corner conversations or lunch meetings. These are informal settings, which are not regulated by the confines of a cabin or officialdom. And both the networker – and the networkee- tend to be a bit more relaxed. These conversations often lead to opportunities that are never advertised or recommended by anyone. It’s the classic case of keeping your eyes and ears open!

I strongly believe that business schools, higher education should teach students that it is not enough to only good at your job. One of the key skills for career growth – apart from quality deliverables & customer satisfaction – is networking. This is one of the realities of today’s corporate world and there is no harm in education students that this is a skill that is almost necessary to grow in the corporate world.

This is not an essay based on any bad experience. But, a result of observation of how some of the most talented people at work, are also brilliant at networking. Good skill to have!