The old adage of it’s not what you know it’s who you know is as important today as it ever was. People make things happen for people – that is the way it is. Whether it is guiding friends or colleagues on, or putting in a “good word”. It is our network that does so much to power our progress.
Even updating us on professional matters, talking about things we weren’t aware of – or explaining concepts that had eluded us. It is the network, the hub and spokes of our professional world which does so much to educate, entertain and enlighten.
Networking is about making connections and building enduring, mutually beneficial relationships. Ask most successful people which single skill or habit helped them excel in their career – an overwhelming majority will say “networking”.
Personal relationships are at the core of networking – and they enable people to stand out, rise above the noise and remain top of mind. The network of relationships is the catalyst for success. So how can seafarers keep there’s going while developing it?
Friendships: Your network will be full of different types of people. Some of them may actually care about you. Some of them will like you and want to see you succeed. This is a very powerful currency, and can be more important than Dollars, Pounds or Euros. Never overlook the simple benefit of having friends in the business with no strings attached. We need to know someone has our back, that we have people who are there for us. That is one massive benefit of Crewtoo – your friends can chat to keep you motivated and cheery, are a sounding board for ideas, or will listen to you moan when you need it. People need people – so staying connected is vital.
Opportunities: Friends are great – but opportunities are what keep the roof over our head. This is perhaps the most significant benefit that a network translates into. Your network knows the latest jobs, the support for training, the best things that you need – your network knows about them first, and you can benefit by being connected to them.
Advice: Your network is a sponge for information. By staying connected you can benefit from that – you can squeeze all of facts, figures and information from your network. Like having your own professional Google, your network has the answers you need. We rely on our networks to advise us and keep us on track, and we give back to our networks in return. The better your network the more knowledge you can tap into.
Assistance: Sometimes advice can only take you so far – occasionally you will need actual assistance and support. Having a strong network means you have people to turn to, people who will help you out and have your back when you need it.
Positive Influence: Your network is a reflection of you – you become who you associate with. If you surround yourself with the right people then the attitudes, habits, world view, and associations will rub off. Your network is out changing the world as we speak – you need to stay connected to it, to be lifted by the positive spirals, as people respect what your network does – and you need to stay part of delivering for the people in it.
Type “Keeping Networks alive” into Google and you get loads of advice on how to attend events, have a nice business card and how to get along with people. There is nothing which discusses what happens when you have to go to sea and your ship doesn’t have internet.
This is a very unique and difficult situation – its fine to be told how important your network is and of the many ways you need to connect and embrace it, but what happens when you can’t?
Well – this is where you need the help and support of those who understand your unique position. This is the situation in which professional bodies, groups and organisations excel. By joining in – you can insulate yourself from some of the negative effects of being at sea.
You join the group, and the group dynamic protects and insulates you. The likes of the Nautical Institute, IMarEST, The Propeller Club, these are groups which understand your situation – they know the sea and its realities. They know that you will be away, and may be out of touch – but they keep your network alive and thriving while you are out of the loop. Then when you return, you know you can step back in.
If you are lucky enough to work on a ship which is connected – and thankfully increasingly many are. Then making sure you stay in touch with your network is important.
There will be debates on LinkedIN which your expert view from sea will be hugely important. You can post pictures of life at sea (not breaching any social media guidelines of course) on Facebook, Crewtoo and Instagram. You can share ideas and engage with groups and people on Twitter. They will all cherish the interaction from sea, and you are driving your network forward.
For those without access and connectivity it can be hard – but not impossible. Staying in touch whenever possible is one answer – even in the rush of finding some Wifi – whether in a Mission or welfare centre, then even a quick “hello” and update to your network just reminds them where you are.
Staying connected is not easy, but it can make a real difference. Thankfully the culture of seafaring has developed the ability to re-engage with people easily. Old shipmates who haven’t seen each other for years are able to get back into conversation as if their trip was yesterday. So remember how important the network is, and make an effort – they will reflect that back to you, and hopefully it is a classic win-win situation.