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Not that long ago I wrote a blog entry about Networking ... but it was really more about how to network when you are at a networking event. Once you have read today's entry you can create a networking plan and then go back to my earlier entry to find out what to do when you get there!
I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about networking in today's environment, and more about where to network than how to act at a networking event.
There are a lot of new factors at play today:
The pace of life is FAST ... so many people don't have a lot of time.
The internet boasts an unlimited number of "online opportunities" for you to network.
The economy has put a lot of people out of work, and lots of them are looking to network.
There are plenty of time-worn factors STILL at play:
You only have a certain amount of time so you need to make the most of it.
The people you most want to network with are tough to get hold of.
Many people don't value "networking".
So what do you need to do?
1. Decide what you want to gain from networking.
2. Look at other people who have been successful in what you want to do ... and see where they network.
3 Make a networking plan that lists all of your options, determines the potential return on investment in each of your options and then put the commensurate level of effort into the ones you choose to pursue.
4. Take some time to understand and learn the online options ... will you benefit from LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace or any of the other general networking sites. Are there specific niche sites that meet your needs.
5. Understand why you are networking ... to gather knowledge, to make new friends, to find a job, to raise capital, to gain influence, to "be seen" ... there are probably 101 different reasons why people network.
6. Don't just go to network events ... understand what you might gain and have a plan.
7. Don't go to a networking event with the express purpose of "taking" ... you need to come to the table with something to "give". Whether that is knowledge, expertise, charm, jokes, free beer or whatever ... bring something!
8. Consider starting your own network! Find a few colleagues/friends with similar goals/interests and have them find a few and help each other.
9. Set aside time for networking ... don't just go with the flow. Add a timeline to your networking plan.
10. Have fun! People will be more likely to talk to you if you are a positive force ... as opposed to the quiet person hiding in the corner.