I am a huge believer in the power of networking; networking has had a positive impact on all areas of my life. It is often thought that networking is only useful for job-seekers or young executives intent on scurrying up the corporate ladder as quickly as they can, but I’ve found that not to be the case. If I, a decidedly not upwardly mobile young professional in suit and heels, can reap gains from building and using a network, than so can anyone.
First though, what is networking? Well, a network is an organization of like objects and networking is “the art of building alliances”. As my local networking group puts it: networking is giving, receiving and then giving back again.
I am a member of many networks, some formally organized, others not so much. First and most importantly, I am a member of a local professional, English-speaking women’s network. In fact I was the secretary for three years. This network has helped me both with contacts (I met my dentist and the designer of this Almost Frugal’s logo through the network) and with resources (help in my application for funding for graduate school. I am also part of more informal networks such as Freecycle, or many online parenting groups.
The internet is full of networks, which can be incredibly beneficial to those looking for resources. One of the first that comes to mind is Alltop, a blog aggregator. It groups together hundreds (thousands?) of different blogs according to topic. This system benefits both reader and blogger; I get a ton of referral traffic from Alltop and have found many wonderful blogs through them. Another example of a more specific network would be The Snowflake Revolution or WPersonal Finance, both of which are more narrow in their niches.
Networks don’t have to be formal or organized to be effective. In fact the most helpful are often the least organized, because they come together organically around a common theme. My transfer from Blogger to WordPress was made much easier by the community of users of my new theme, Thesis. I’ve also gotten some great blogging help just by asking other people; Lynnae from Being Frugal has given me lots of helpful advice on blog ads, Mrs Micah has been very supportive about design issues and general questions. I consider these two bloggers to be part of a very informal blogging network.
Networking really is for everyone, not just the most extroverted connectors although being at ease in social situations certainly makes it easier. From a personal finance and frugality standpoint, networking really makes sense. The Freecycle network helps you get goods for free, while a professional network might help you find professional contacts whose services you can trust, as they were referred to you by a trusted contact. Other networks can help you find information easily and efficiently, and after all, we all know that time is money.
Are you a member of any networks? Do you feel comfortable networking?