Most of you probably think this will be another article lambasting the improper use of LinkedIn and Facebook, or asking you not to be a bad twit(ter). Fortunately, I think many of you are getting the point and don’t need to be lectured on how to use (and not use) social media. What I want to talk about today is networking with your colleagues in a social way.
Many landmen I know like to tell me about how they are really working on ‘networking’, or I will get an email telling me that they are ‘networking’ to get a new job. This is a falsehood. You don’t network sometimes, and you don’t network when you need something. Without further ado, here are my rules of networking:
- If you wait to network until you need something, you’ve waited too long.
- Networking is about helping others get what they want, not helping yourself. The sooner you realize this, the more successful you will be.
- Networking doesn’t happen on the internet. It happens at lunch, dinner, or at Starbucks.
- Networks are like rose bushes, they must be tended to. Don’t forget to talk to them when life is going well.
- If you don’t have time for your network, your network won’t have time for you.
Now, I know that networking is hard work, and it can even be uncomfortable at times. The good news is that it gets easier over time. Some people need a little kick to get started, so below you’ll find a list of suggestions. I challenge you to do at least one thing to network per week for 6 weeks. If it is still uncomfortable after that, let me know and we’ll come up with something else to try!
- Invite a colleague whom you don’t know well to lunch or coffee. It can be a connection from LinkedIn or even someone at the office that you don’t really know.
- Send an article to someone in your network that you think would interest them, it should be relevant and timely.
- Send a short email, or make a quick phone call to find out what is new with a connection. This works great when combined with #2. Even if you don’t get a call back or a return email, that person will remember that you thought of them.
- Sit down and take the time to write a nice recommendation for a previous client, supervisor, or colleague on LinkedIn. Don’t ask for a recommendation in exchange, just do it because they do a good job and should be recognized for it.
- Watch for colleagues who are hiring or staffing a position and recommend a great applicant to them. Make sure the person you recommend is someone you would personally vouch for.
- Participate in a charity function. This is a great way to increase your network and meet new people. People like to help people that are like them, so get involved in something you like! Most local professional associations have a charity function of some type at least a few times a year.
Do you have a rule to add? Or a suggestion for networking? Tell us all about it in the comments below!