What does it mean to
“network” and how do you maximize “your network” in order to help land a job that you are passionate about, create exciting opportunities, and/or make new connections? Well, let’s start with the simple fact that long gone are the days of attending those f*cking lame networking events where you are forced to try and keep an unsticky name tag on your blouse long enough for you to get liquored up and mingle, solely in hopes to find someone that can help you get to where you want to be. In the end, you leave with a lousy buzz, pounding headache, hideous name tag and not a single person that was a strong enough connection to assist you in getting a job. Who has time for that and what’s the real pay-off? In this day in age these so called “hip” networking events are a complete WASTE OF TIME!
When describing myself,
I am a natural “people connector.” Love taking action and putting someone in contact with another person whose relationship will come to be mutually beneficial.
I learned very early on that when networking, I couldn’t make it all about me. I used to meet people and automatically turn straight to my elevator pitch. In the end, this premature forced act with a one sided outcome resulted in never hearing from some people.
What the hell did I do wrong?
I was only thinking about myself and that came off completely transparent to everyone but ME (rookie mistake)!
The reality is when you are genuinely willing to help others, they will want to help you.
I recently connected a couple Retail Executives clients who were sharing very similar challenges, they hit it off, had a successful brainstorming session where they learned from one another’s businesses and allowed for personal growth. What’s in it for me you ask? It’s about putting positive vibes out into the universe without selfishly leaning on intrinsic motivation.
Now I continually have people reaching out with the intention of introducing me to someone they know they believe I can help in some way and it feels damn good.
Now you’re probably wondering,
“How do I create a network of supporters who provide reciprocal efforts?”
It’s easy, you can start NOW , it will lead you to not only helping others, but helping yourself.
Top FIVE actions to create an effective NEW network
1. Assess your current network
The circles you associate yourself with. Do you have people who give and take, take and take, or don’t do a damn thing? Feel like you need to expand your circle? Do you have great connections and contacts, but haven’t taken the time with significant people that can help? Evaluate your professional circles, friends, family, neighbors, college, alumni by assessing and writing down the values you bring to your network and what you’re currently getting out of each of your circles. “The Value” could be examples like: referrals, advice/listening, requests you’ve executed upon and your time (most valuable currency). Note: this assessment should happen once a year.
Write down what you’d like to provide and get out of your relationship/networks. If you feel like your network needs improvement, research who you’d like to connect with (Google, Facebook, Linkedin, College connect databases, Association profiles and website are all great sites to research). Most importantly, figure out how you would bring or add value into their life and make sure you think you would actually like the person. The relationship will be hard to sustain if you think the person is an asshole lame, even if they have a power or something you really want. Great networks cultivate like minded people. Go one step further with your list by prioritizing in which order you would like to meet the people and by when (creating a deadline date for yourself will hold you accountable).
3. Connect and find value for others
Once you have finalized your list, it’s time to put it into action. Reach out to each individual asking to meet whether for a meeting, an interview or a phone call. State your reason and why you think they should make the time to speak with you (positioning your value and what you can offer them is essential). I have found that it is often effective if you know a challenge or issue that they are currently facing and you have the solution or resources to guide them or help in some way.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Put simply… if there’s someone you know that can connect you to people or companies you want to network with, don’t be afraid to ask for their help and let them know how you plan to position your value. This simple introduction can also make them exceedingly valuable to both you and the other individual. Example, I recently had someone reach out to me via LinkedIn and he was looking to network and was new to the city (didn’t know the guy) . I provided a warm connection to one of my colleagues because they had similar interests and the company he worked for was in the region my colleague managed. I figured he would find more value out of the new found contact verses me hitting the delete button 🙂
5. Follow up and Thank you’s
Always, always, always say “thank you” (your momma taught you that at a very young age). If someone took the time to connect with you, send a thank you note. Indicate why you appreciate them taking time out of their busy schedule and what your next steps are. After you send your appropriate thank you, don’t forget to follow up with them in a timely manner.