As mentioned in the first part, when done thoughtfully, networking is the give and take of helping one another out within the context of our careers over time. Whether you are looking for a job, contemplating making a transition in the coming year, or are happy as a clam in your current job, consider some quick and easy ways to develop more clusters of people in your network:
Get to 500+ connections on LinkedIn
Get a heck of a lot less picky about who you’ll add as a connection on LinkedIn. If it’s been a while since you’ve communicate with someone, include a personalized note. It’s a great way to reconnect in seconds. Meet someone new? Add them on LinkedIn the next day. Side note: if you’re not on LinkedIn, you might as well as not exist as a professional. Seriously!
Reconnect with old acquaintances
Make a list of people you haven’t seen, emailed, or communicated with in the last year with whom you’d like to reconnect. All you need to do is let them know you were thinking about them and wondered what they were up to. Think globally, across industries, and career types. Then, make a modest goal of reaching out to 4-6 per month. That’s only 1-2 per week.
If you’re not leveraging any social networks or participating in them, you are essentially “off the radar.” Rather than be a social media voyeur, take a chance and put some of your ideas and thoughts out there. Let people know what you’re up to. Share an article, comment on others’ posts, or write about something that made you stop and think (or laugh). Just by engaging, it gives others an opportunity and encouragement to reach out to you.
Do unto others…
Think of someone you’d like to introduce to another person. Be the generous one, the connector, who says, “Oh, there’s someone I’d like you to meet! I think you’d really enjoying talking about X and Y. Let me put you in touch.” Then, follow through.
If you find yourself saying, “It doesn’t feel genuine”, “I like my privacy”, or “I don’t like attracting attention to myself,” then I would try experimenting with methods to connect with more people in a way that feels most authentic to you. But for god’s sake, do it! Put yourself out there in small ways and watch all sorts of interesting new opportunities and experiences open up.
My challenge to you within the next week is to post at least one status update on Facebook, add 3 new connections on LinkedIn, and make one introduction between two people. That’s all it takes to get the networking cycle started. Networking is like good karma…what you put out there usually comes back to you in unexpected and delightful ways.