Let's talk about networking.
Every week someone says something like “I need to build my network” to me. Okay: I agree.
So what are you doing about it?
For those confused about networking fundamentals let me give you the summary:
You've got to act
The number one mistake people make is not reaching out, or in many cases, simply responding.
Here's a familiar scenario. You go to an association meeting, professional development seminar, or conference a la SHRM13. You meet people. You stumble through hellos, and so forth.
You come home with real business cards in hand or digital contact info. What do you do with it?
If you're like most people, nothing
You put their information aside meaning to 'get to it later.'
Here's what you could have done:
- Email every single person with a real note the same day you got their info – the same day. Just like you would all the people you met during an interview. A personal note using their name
- Included in your signature (hopefully already) is every bit of contact info you want to share about yourself: email, phone, office phone, web site, blog, LinkedIn and probably Twitter. Share FB, Foursquare, Pinterest, etc only if you use those just for business. The point is they're in your email
- Search every new person on Linked In and ask to connect. All LinkedIn requires to connect is a name and an email which you've already got. Reach out today while their memory of you is fresh
- Put their name and number into your phone now if it isn't already there along with a note about them – “Comp Expert” “plays softball” – so you can jog your memory about them later
- Google them to see if you have any professional associations, former employers, civic groups, etc in common. You're not stalking them, you're checking to see if you already have connections you can use to reach out
- If they've written articles, blogs, reports, etc., they'll show up in Google and you may want to comment on them. As a writer I can tell you comments delight me, even if the comment doesn't agree with my stance
- For every single person that replies to you answer them. Even a thank you is better than radio silence. If you do connect on LI make a comment on their profile, or a remark on an item they post. Thank them if they follow you on Twitter, and put them in a list so you'll see their tweets and reply as you want. Respond
Why do all this?
Cause most people don't and by reaching out you're breaking through
Networking isn't playing, prodding, pleading, pretending or just a waste of your time. Be real and you will never struggle for something meaningful to say.
Networking is the lifeblood of communication between professionals and is now global thanks to digital tools. You should network. I agree.
Its time to act.