“Networking” is term that gives many that sick feeling, especially among us introverts. However, if think of it in terms of simply building relationships, the idea of networking may be much more palatable.
Here’s the thing – your network is the people you know. It’s the starting point. And make no mistake about it: what makes your network valuable has a lot to do with the value you bring to the network.
That means that you must constantly be thinking about how you can add value to the relationship. When you focus on what you can do for the other person, it enables you to easily ask for help when the time comes. Generally, we want to reciprocate; e look forward to helping out someone that has helped them out in the past.
Building and maintaining your network IS work.
You’ve got to put yourself out there. Proactively meeting influencers, colleagues and mentors… and asking questions about them and their work. As you learn more about them, you can quickly figure out how you can help them, (a.k.a., add value). Beyond making that initial contact, it takes effort to maintain the relationships in your network.
No maintenance = No network.
So how do you do it? How do you exponentially expand your professional network?
Be a Good Conversationalist
This was identified recently in a Stanford study as the one trait all of the most successful people surveyed had in common. You can do this by quickly articulating who you are, what you do, and why it matters and being curious about other’s lives by asking those who, what and why questions of others.
Expand your reach beyond who you meet in person by commenting on a blog post or send a “thank you” to new Twitter followers and begin to create a dialog with the other person. That’s the beauty of this virtual world we live in!
Remember Important Dates
Keep track of birthdays, career milestones/promotions, anniversaries, etc. … and send a note letting them know you’re thinking of them.
Take the Initiative
Invite the other person for coffee or lunch. Don’t use the time to just ask for something from them. Instead, reconnect and catch up on the latest goings-on in their life.
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
Pay attention to what you hear and read so you can forward on relevant information to people in your network. When you know about what interests people in your network you can: 1) Send a link to an article/tweet those individuals in your network who would find it beneficial 2) Make introductions to other people who have similar interests or who would find their extended network helpful.
You’ve now not only helped the other person build their network, you’ve enhanced your own network. It begins to grow exponentially!
Bottom line, networking is a contact sport! If you only show up at events or reach out when you need something – you’ve missed the boat.
Take time to build relationships in a genuine manner, be authentic in looking for ways to add value for the other person and you’ll have a powerful army of people who will be there for you!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at PeopleResults!