One of my favorite parts of public speaking is the questions that I get from the audience. After one of my speaking events I had a very interesting conversation that led to this question:
“I always plan to network more but the opportunities do not present themselves very often and when they do I am usually busy “on the job” or with family activities. Can you have a theme on prioritizing networking, making it a priority and how to get more involved in networking activities? I am terrible at networking and usually only do it when I am looking for a new job…”
This subject really resonated with me. I’m sure that person is not the only one that feels this way.
Are you networking in a way that works for you?
In my book, The Connector’s Advantage, one of the things I talk a lot about is investing in making connections in the right way – that is the way that’s right for you, which may not be consistent with the pressure you are putting on yourself.
We are all busy, yet we feel like we need to spend a LOT of time networking. It doesn’t need to be a daily thing. It could be weekly. When Friday at 4:00 rolls around, what are we really getting done anyway? Or during that food coma after we eat lunch and we are just staring at our computer – we might as well hop online and send a few personal messages through the virtual outlet of our choice. Or even pick up the phone!
Maybe weekly still feels like a lot of work – our efforts could even by monthly. The important thing is that you are moving at a comfortable pace and forming a habit of networking.
Here are 3 steps to make networking feel easier:
Don’t think of networking separate from the things you do all the time.
You are always networking whether on the playground waiting for pickup or at a local event. Be curious, build relationship with those you are already around – you never know where it may lead.
Think about staying in mind with light touches.
A quick note of congratulations or a comment on their post. The ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes are always appreciated. You are not asking them for anything but your name stays familiar.
Take 10 minutes a week.
You don’t have to think of it as something time consuming. Instead think about how to nurture 1 – 5 relationships through a light touch in less than 10 minutes a week.
Networking can look like a lot of different things. Maybe for you it’s sending a personalized note to 5 people on LinkedIn, planning a live lunch once a week, or getting in touch with 5 people once a month to reconnect. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you – you have to find your own rhythm. And once you do, networking won’t feel like work.
You never know where connections will blossom. Some of my best friends are also people who were originally clients.
How are you going to start networking?