By Sally Afonso
Networking is hard for me. Introverted by nature and workaholic by habit, I’m more at ease behind a computer or in a conference room. I’ve been guilty of calling networking a “soft” skill.
This year, however, I’m pushing myself outside of my compliance comfort zone – and venturing into networking has been a key challenge. I’ve learned just how “hard” networking is, both in terms of difficulty to master as a competency, as well as in how much concrete benefit there is in practicing it.
Some of the advantages I’ve gained from my adventures in networking include:
- Collaborators – You are not alone! Meet people outside of your company, community, or business sector who are interested in the same topics as you are and might like to work with you, including researching, writing articles and blog posts, or even speaking at future events.
- Challengers – Break free of habits and heuristics. Even the routines and choices you think are great could benefit from a refresh by chatting to someone with new best practices to suggest.
- Opposing views – Beyond checks and balances, take the chance to meet people whose experiences or ideas totally differ. See it as an ambition to work through your divergent opinions to find shared conclusions.
- Show and tell – We’ve all been there, done that, in different ways. Networking allows us to reach out to each other – up, down, and across. We’re giving back to the evolving compliance function not just as a reflection of individual seniority or interest, but in contribution to our collective development and expertise.
- Get a clue – Be triggered in a positive way! Ignite new interests and curiosities by hearing about backgrounds and expertise of others. This can even include suggestions for other organizations to join or learning opportunities to pursue.
Although anyone who recognizes me from conferences or events would still find me reading a book during lunch sooner than table-hopping by the buffet, I appreciate how my small efforts in networking have already added greatly to my professional self-development.
If you’re hesitant, as I was, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone just a little – you can start by saying hello to me!