Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nurturing My Professional Network... or the Top 5 Things I Learned During a Month of Networking

So I did it... 30 days during which I was supposed to focus more intently on helping others within my professional network. It was a long road... partly because sometimes I got so busy in my day-to-day that I didn't feel like I was really focusing on this challenge as I should, or, at least, as I promised myself I would. That said, in response to one of my followers who sent me an email message, I thought I'd post some of the networking lessons I've learned both from this challenge and from my own networking experiences. They may not all be new ideas, but those I repeat, I repeat for a reason. (Kind of like the idea that cliches exist because they are, at least in part, true.)
  1. Play on your strengths. I'm a communications / media relations / marketing person. I am on a lot of list servs and hear about a lot of media queries. So it's not surprising that the place where I did much of my "nurturing" was in forwarding on media opportunities to others. The point: There's no reason your networking activities need to be outside of your comfort zone.
  2. Approach every networking situation from a "What can I do for you?" perspective. You aren't an effective networker if you're always looking for how a relationship will benefit you or to find someone who can do something for you. Your first priority should be how you can help others with their goals. Then, when you do need something from your network, they'll be ready and willing to help you out.
  3. Don't approach networking with tunnel vision. Every person you meet may not have an immediate and obvious connection to what you do. But you never know how your job, your goals, your responsibilities, and your needs will change over time. So keep an open mind.
  4. Always network. This was really the purpose of the challenge. You may not have a need for your network today, but if you aren't nurturing it now, when you don't need it, then it won't be there for you when you do need it.
  5. Follow up is everything. After you meet someone, find a reason to follow up and reconnect with her. Send a link to an article or blog post you think he might find interesting. Ask if she wants to get coffee to talk about an issue or project in which you both are invested. Invite him to an event you think he might enjoy. Relationships are all about ongoing communications.
As I started writing this post, I thought about some other networking tips -- not necessarily related to this challenge -- that I want to share. I'll post those later this week.

1 comment:

anandhi said...

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