#014 The Opposite of Networking is NOT Working

Let’s talk about networking from a career management perspective.

Think of your network not as a lamp you turn on an off, but one that stays on at all times.

Your network should be something you maintain at a low, consistent, but significant level at all times.

January is a great time to assess your networking. Really thinking about it from a strategic standpoint, and assessing the ROI of your networking activities.

Think about your networking activities in terms of your financial commitment, as well as your time commitment.

Here’s a definition of networking; “A supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest.”

Networking should be a symbiotic, rather than a parasitic, relationship.

Networking requires a supportive (symbiotic) relationship.

Networking also requires sharing–again, symbiotic.

Networking requires people who share a common interest.

Here are my top six tips for networking:

1.

Set goals for your networking both on a macro-level and a micro-level.

In other words, set goals for your involvement with the group as a whole, and for the individual components, such as weekly meetings and one-on-one meetings.

2.

Evaluate your networking strategy at least once a year – did you achieve what you set out to achieve with this group? How do you want to adjust your goals for this group in the coming year?

  1. Create an intriguing and engaging elevator pitch that leaves ‘em wanting more.

Here’s a great example: “Hi, my name is _____, and I support IT professionals in their quest to become superior leaders, so they can make maximum contributions to their company, their employees, their profession, and, most importantly, themselves.”

I haven’t inundated my networking partner with information they may not be interested in. If they are interested, they will ask how I do the above, and that gives me the opportunity to say something like:

“I’m a coach with X years’ experience as an IT leader. I am passionate about providing IT professionals with the support I DIDN’T have when I was at their career stage.”

You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.

The message is this: listen twice as much as you talk, particularly in one-on-one meetings. When the other person is talking, listen solely for how you can provide value to the other person. Turn off the sentences in your mind about your own story or what you’re going to say when it’s your turn.

4.

Be specific in your ask.

Do your homework ahead of time to determine a possible ask for this individual, while at the same time remaining open to the meeting going in a completely different direction than you had planned.

LinkedIn is a tremendous asset in determining who this individual knows and can connect you to.

  1. Do what you say you will do.

Follow-up is the key to networking success. Make the introductions you said you would make, follow up with the networking contact when you said you would, etc. Be a person of your word; this will take you far in your networking efforts.

  1. Don’t be afraid to try new networking events that may not be obvious choices for you.

Step way outside your comfort zone every once in a while. Particularly if it doesn’t require much of your time or money…give it a try—you never know!

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