In 2010, rescuers lifted 33 men, one-by-one, from an emergency mining shelter half a mile underground in Chile. As each man resurfaced following nearly 70 days without sunlight, the relief was overwhelming—especially since the rescue was expected to take two months longer.
So, how were these miners rescued so far ahead of predictions?
The answer: networking.
Backtrack 70 days. Following the mine’s collapse, rescuers took more than two weeks to locate survivors. And once they had, officials in Chile’s government realized that to get the miners out alive, they’d need help. Once the Chilean president issued a global request for aid, organizations around the world offered their best equipment and their own experts to lend a hand.
Chilean-U.S. company, Geotec Boyles Bros., began an initial drilling project but continued to assemble a separate international team, Plan B, that sourced the best materials from around the world and, ultimately, ended up rescuing the miners. Two U.S. companies with a history of dealing with mine collapses offered a specialty drill that could make wide enough shafts in the ground for men to fit through, and UPS shipped it free of charge within 48 hours.
The drill’s operation required someone with extensive experience, so an American drilling expert was called off his current assignment in Afghanistan to help. And, finally, to understand and mitigate isolation’s psychological tolls on the miners, experts from the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as well as Chile’s own submarine specialists offered their expertise.
Had the Chilean government chosen not to reach out to a wider network for help, these 33 men may never have returned to their families. A global network saved their lives.
What is networking?
When it comes to building careers and succeeding in business, networking is “the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” It includes selecting key colleagues, associates and acquaintances, and regularly keeping in touch for one another’s mutual benefit.
“People who master networking become key assets to any organization they work for,” says Laurent da Silva, Badenoch + Clark’s General Manager of Professional Recruitment France. “So, networking has become a key competency in the modern workplace. In fact, nearly all of our clients expect candidates for every kind of position to be able to network.”
What is networking’s current place in the professional world?
“More and more employers now require job applicants to have a strong network before they’ll be considered for a role,” explains Pietro Valdes, Regional Managing Director at Badenoch + Clark Italy.
Networking not only helps when looking for a new job but, as we see in the rescue of the Chilean miners, it can also be instrumental when it comes to solving problems. When you expand your network, you naturally access more people with unique skills, specialties and expertise. A group is nearly always stronger than one individual, so without a network it’s more difficult to address issues, overcome obstacles and achieve large-scale accomplishments.
5 Keys to successful networking
“When it comes to networking, trust is an important key. So is giving, which is why we organize high-level HR events and invite our key contacts. It’s not just to enlarge our own network, but to help our contacts build connections with one another,” says Luca Semeraro, Head of Badenoch + Clark Switzerland.
Beyond attending or planning events like these, how else can you best build your network? Try these tricks to up your networking game:
Practice active listening. This doesn’t just mean you stay quiet when the other person is speaking. Show sincere interest by asking intelligent follow up questions.
- Always look for ways to offer help. The best networkers approach people by starting with how they can help rather than seeking out what they can get from the relationship.
- Be a connector. Don’t just seek out your own new contacts—make helpful introductions whenever you can.
- Keep an eye open for smart, motivated people. Make a connection with them early, stay in touch and help them along in their career if you can. They are the influencers of the future—making a connection with them will be easier now than it will be a few years down the road.
- Follow through. If you connect with someone by offering an idea of how you can help them, don’t neglect to follow through on your offer. If you fail there, you’ll lose trust before a two-sided networking relationship can even begin.