We hear it all the time, and for good reason: networking is the most important tool you’ll ever use.
The short story is that, at its core, business is about people talking to people. Sure, technology has removed the need to get up close and personal for a growing percentage of today’s business transactions, but it’s still about relationships and establishing contact.
One of the best ways to make lasting connections in any industry is to engage in networking. The term “networking” covers a lot of ground, from business retreats to industry conventions, but there’s no need to pigeonhole it.
It is, however, important to do it. And, with that in mind we take a look at five books that can help you grow your professional network.
1. The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
LinkedIn is a pioneering tool in the world of networking that combines the draw of social media with the utility of a professional networking hub. Cofounder Reid Hoffman co-wrote “The Start-Up of You” in part to demonstrate how to most effectively use networking (and networking websites like LinkedIn) to widen business opportunities.
Although the book focuses on trade practices of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as a template for how to use networking to one’s advantage, the concepts are applicable in any field. At its heart, it’s about investing in yourself the same way you would invest in your most prized business plan.
2. The Skinny on Networking: Maximizing the Power of Numbers
Brevity and effectiveness are the hallmarks of the “Skinny On” series, and this edition carries on the reputation of quality in author Jim Randel’s writing. Randel is well-known for his comic approach to business tactics, and the mechanics of networking are served well in this style.
This book is not meant to be an exhaustive guide to networking techniques, but it goes a lot further than many books on the same subject by providing actual tips and tricks on how to network, as opposed to telling readers why it’s important to network – which they already know.
3. Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business
Very much for the “new school” in the business world, “Power Friending” provides an accessible approach to social media for the purposes of networking. Author Amber Mac’s take on networking is one that is tempered with fresh experience in the brave new world of social media.
The book helps readers both by being entertaining and easy to read, but also by providing specific tips on what to do and what not to do in the realm of social media to build and manage networking contacts. A new type of digital etiquette is evolving as we speak and Mac is a reliable compass for social media newcomers and veterans alike.
4. Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-how for Business And Career Success
Authors Anne Barber and Lynne Waymon deliver a book about networking that will be a useful read for anyone who wants to know exactly how to network: how to approach strangers, how to effectively communicate business concepts and how to avoid turning people off.
“Make Your Contacts Count” is an effective guidebook for how to establish trust with people you don’t know and maintain that trust over the course of the business relationship. That said, Barber/Waymon notably do not address social networking, focusing more on establishing relationships “the old-fashioned way,” which is still very important in today’s business world.
5. Click: Ten Truths for Building Extraordinary Relationships
Author George Fraser turns the concept of networking on its head by asking readers what they can offer in networking relationships as opposed to focusing on what they can get. In a job climate (and resulting networking book market) that favors the hungry survivalist “Click” is a refreshing shift in gears.
The book takes a bird’s-eye view of networking in that the tips it provides can be applied across all relationships, but that is part of its message – networking first has to be a genuine before it can ever be effective. From this perspective, readers can see that developing business relationships is not so different than the other types of bonds we forge.