Hot New Networking Technique: Relational Savvy

networkingCareer networking may seem like an intense game of chess where every move is part of the bigger plan and it does not matter how you get to the end as long as you get there.

But the game of career networking is changing -- and in fact, it isn't much of a game at all. Successful networkers focus more on nurturing meaningful relationships with a clear goal of how each connection can offer career guidance.

These networkers are not just successful, they're savvy, according to Dr. E. Chandler, assistant professor of management at California Polytechnic State University. Chandler studied this successful technique, which she calls "relational savvy."

"Being 'savvy' isn't about playing 'the game,'" Chandler said. "It's about cultivating and nurturing relationships that are mutually beneficial and involve respect and trust."

After studying both "savvy" networkers and average professionals, Chandler identified four main differences between the two groups, which is a guide for those looking to be more "relational savvy."

  1. Development Proactivity – Savvys reach out frequently to others, called "developers" for support; average professionals reach out less frequently and sometimes not at all.
  2. Managing Interactions – From managing their interactions thoughtfully to preparing for all meetings with "developers," Savvys constantly work on their relationships and ensure that the partnership is mutually beneficial.
  3. Relational Attitudes – A professional's attitude can either help or hinder a relationship. Savvys hold positive, enabling attitudes in which they believe that 'developers' want to help them and give advice instead of feeling intimidated.
  4. Social Skills – In order to make a meaningful connection with others, a person needs to have solid listening skills, empathy and other basic skills.
Following the above steps and learning how to be "relational savvy" means professionals will have more support as they transition in and out of jobs -- which is more common in today's workplace. Restricting your networking to one mentor could affect your ability to face new learning curves.
"People often think of mentoring as a relationship that looks like Yoda and Luke Skywalker's or Mr. Miyagi and the Karate Kid's," Chandler said. "The reality in today's career world is that mentors, in spite of their best intentions, are very busy and can't necessarily offer their proteges as much time as would be needed to meet all of the protege's needs."
Chandler began to put her theory into play in herself when she identified the number of people who helped her with her career. One mistake that professionals often make, she notes, is reaching out to someone they do not know and asking for a significant chunk of their time instead of asking for substantial assistance with a target goal in mind.
"In today's fast-paced world, people constantly need to learn to grow in order to be successful," Chandler said. "Being 'savvy' is a lifetime endeavor -- and we can all become more adept."

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