In the Social Age, lurking may be the easy way out; a way to feel connected without actually committing to networking. But it is a hapless method for making friends and building relationships.
So if you decide that “coy and hard to find” will be your networking posture, you’ll need an incredible amount of patience. Because your network does not generate or re-generate instantly. To get the word out to a busy and distracted crowd, it takes months of consistent effort.
And, for many, the failure that comes from not networking in a consistent manner is a teachable moment. Those who have been “taught” are now better for having struggled through the re-generation; from needing to start all over again. They have developed new habits and are actively reaching out to help others, because the frustration they felt when they needed a network that wasn’t there is seared into their memory.
So, how do you operate out of the shadows and build a long-term networking strategy? Here are five things you can start doing today to establish strong, and always available, networking karma:
1. Be A Connector
Keep a list handy of five people you know who are out of work or desperately looking for a much needed new contract. You can keep your own simple spreadsheet that details the needs of your network. As you meet new people, consider whether any of them can be of help to your list of five.
2. Be Available
If you are employed, let it be known that you are available for informational interviews. To share your wealth of knowledge with those who need to hear it. And while I know that these interviews take valuable time, they represent the type of giving posture that auto-generates good will. And connects you to the grapevine. Whether you are a big company executive or the owner of a small consulting firm, someone out there needs you.
3. Be Public
Pick a single networking event in your community and show up regularly. You’ll be amazed at how many quality people are out looking for work or needing to create connections to build a business. Offer to speak at that event about your company, about your role there or about a big upcoming initiative. You can become a person of influence outside of your office. With a group of people who really need it.
4. Be Charitable
Identify a local charity of interest and offer a few hours a week or each month to provide ideas or strategic direction. You can become a board member or simply offer hours as you have time. This spreads your talents beyond the reaches of your company. This is also one way to build a more stable life and career platform. One that isn’t instantly upended if someday you lose your job.
5. Be Open
Be open to introductions from your network. Sometimes these are simply a quick fifteen-minute phone call during your commute home or a short e-mail conversation. But your open posture will allow others to feel comfortable around you. Comfortable to ask something of you. And, importantly, open to accept a call from you in two years. When you are in need.
In the end, these efforts will help you build networking capital. It may surprise you how little time it takes to maintain your newly found and highly effective networking habits.
Someday you will likely find yourself out of work or needing something from the world around you. A network will be there waiting. Glad to return the favor.
Because in networking, karma works.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Tim’s Strategy!
About the Author: Tim Tyrell-Smith is the creator of Tim’s Strategy. As a blogger, Tim has been a regular contributor to U.S. News and World Report, interviewed twice on NPR and is the author of two career books (“30 Ideas” and “HeadStrong”). Become a fan at http://facebook.com/TimsStrategy and follow on Twitter (@TimsStrategy). He lives with his wife and three kids in Mission Viejo, California.