Missed connections: Is lack of willingness to network holding you back?

One of the greatest opportunities that communicators have for their careers is leveraging their natural talent for clear, concise communication on their own behalf. So why aren't we?

As communicators, we learn the ins and outs of our organizations, the external stakeholder groups of interest to our leaders, the media, and in many cases our professional societies. Yet time and time again, from barely-active LinkedIn groups to poorly attended professional society chapter meetings, I see very few signs of communications professionals leveraging our connecting and communicating skills on our own behalf.

In my most recent article on the Melcrum Communications site, I made the case for internal communicators' need to reach out across their enterprise - and beyond. But this need goes well beyond the IC crowd and extends into the digital and PR spaces as well. Like every other profession, success in business communications depends to a great extent on your ability to form and maintain relationships. Yet somehow we seem loathe to connect and interact beyond our comfort zone. IC people talk to IC people. The PR guys talk with each other, and have drinks with the media relations folks (when they are not the same person). It's pretty rare that we start reaching out to those in other areas - IT, finance, HR - unless we absolutely have to do so. And that's a shame.

There's a lot of great content out on the internet about networking, so I'm not even going to attempt to capture it here - but I want to develop in you a sense of urgency around making connections to help your career along, as well as raise awareness about all the great things our profession has to offer organizations today.

My challenge to communicators everywhere: Cultivate the art of networking. You don't have to be looking for a job to reach out to someone, and you don't have to be just a 'taker.' Find someone new to connect with on LinkedIn - or call someone on your contacts list and see how you might be able to help them today. You never know where it might lead, and you just might improve the image of our entire profession along the way.