How to Build a Network and Benefit in the Long-term
There are many analogies for social and professional networks. A good network is like a spider’s web, it is open in all directions, expanding in ever-increasing circles with every step and encounter. Or, like a cocoon, it gives us support while we grow. But there is yet another way to think about social and professional networks, namely via the automotive world: In cars, the exchange of data and information also works via lines and signals. This leads us to the subject of this blog post — how to network in the automotive industry. Anna Roizman, Agile@Porsche, tells us about her secret to successful networking.
How I got into networking
When I joined Porsche about four years ago, I did not know anyone at the company. Many of my new colleagues already knew each other from work, through their studies or internships. I had never been shy of new beginnings, but I have to admit this was something out of my comfort zone. Yet, I knew it was something I needed for my personal growth and to start a new chapter in my career.
Porsche is an innovative and highly successful company with diverse employees. Here, people are as different as the tasks they perform. Moreover, everyone can benefit from the existing global Porsche network and no one has to reinvent the wheel or start from scratch. Today, I feel very much part of the #PorscheFamily and the automotive network.
When it comes to networks, we need to distinguish between formal and informal networks, of course. With team rounds, team workshops and now MS Teams channels, it has become easier to build formal networks. In contrast, building an informal network from scratch is complicated, because informal networks have the disadvantage of remaining invisible to the uninvolved.
That is why, together with Alexandra Ade and Cihan Sügür, we started our Working Out Loud Circle. We became very active on LinkedIn and Twitter and started to write publicly about it. In a sense, Working Out Loud has released my inner handbrake. Furthermore, I quickly learned how to better understand how networking and personal branding works. Networking is about leaving your comfort zone, and it is a long-term process that “pays off” in the long run.
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Nurture your network
Maintaining and nurturing one’s network is very important, but it is not as time-consuming as it seems. Often, small and sincere gestures are enough to make another person smile, such as a like or a “how are you”. From giving feedback to (virtual) coffee breaks to congratulating on a birthday to leaving a comment on a post, there are many ways to return the appreciation to your network.
However, internal networking is not enough in the long run, you also have to be active and venture more broadly, beyond the confines of your company. Blog posts for Porsche (like the one you are reading now) have helped me increase visibility externally. Of course, Porsche is a good springboard because the company is interesting, but it does not work without your own quality content.
How to get started?
Networking is not always easy at first. So here are a few tips on how to start:
- Make your intentions clear and engage people with honest curiosity.
- Asking questions, being open with your own knowledge, as well as sharing and revealing information are a good start. For example, within your company, you can try to find overlaps and mutual interest with other people.
- Small talk is another effective way to engage people, build trust and rapport, and potentially find connections. Start with a light topic. Adding humor or laughter always helps. When it comes to LinkedIn (or other professional social networks), never send a friend request without a personalised message. Also, remember, you can start small and begin with just leaving your like before you eventually share your own content.
Finally, before I could open up to others, I had to get to know myself. Learning about my own strengths and weaknesses has helped me a lot. You also have to ask yourself ‘what do I actually want from networking?’, ‘what do I expect?’, and ‘does this feel good to me?’. In other words, explore your way into what works well, reflect on it, and get a feel for it.
Milestones & networking in times of corona
Corona has changed the way we interact with each other, but you can (and should) be networking during this time. While networking through regulars’ tables, shared sports or after work events was relatively easy, it has to be rethought during the pandemic. Just as the maintenance of networks takes on a new dimension.
Therefore, I like scheduling virtual coffee dates or virtual lunches. Recently, I have also started to help other people connect with each other, especially interns or new colleagues.
In addition to continuously expanding my network, I like to connect people with one another. A short email saying “you are now connected” or “you’re both interested in the same topic, perhaps you would like to talk to each other” goes a long way. When I am convinced my network can benefit from it, I like to share my knowledge and experience. And I am always happy when new connections and links are made.
With Agile@Porsche Community, we always offer our colleagues the opportunity to network within the Agile world at Porsche. Either in our shared MS Teams channel or at regular events.
Indeed, when it comes to networking, I always enjoy the little things, like kind words of encouragement. Personally, I am also very proud to have been among the five finalists in the #ImpactTogether category for this year’s FTAfelicitas awards, which were held last Friday. My first article on Medium was another huge milestone, of course. I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it!
Anna Roizman, works as Agile Coach at Porsche AG.
About this publication: Where innovation meets tradition. There’s more to Porsche than sports cars — we’re tackling new challenges, develop digital products and think digital with a focus on the customer. On our Medium blog, we tell these stories. It’s about our #nextvisions, smart technologies and the people that drive our digital journey. Please follow us on Twitter (Porsche Digital, Next Visions), Instagram (Porsche Digital, Next Visions, Porsche Newsroom) and LinkedIn (Porsche AG, Porsche Digital) for more.