In the Austin area, you can attend specific networking functions morning, noon, and night. You can turn any other gathering (including standing in lines at grocery stores, movie theatres, bookstores or working out at a gym) into a networking opportunity. In short, what you can do is spend a lot of time and have little to show for it.
That’s what I hear a lot. “It doesn’t work. I network and nothing happens.”
If this happens to you, go back and look at your networks and make sure they are doing what they are supposed to.
Networking is more than leads and referrals. It connects people to each other and makes what it connects more productive in unique and individual ways that go beyond sales and jobs.
It is based to two words: “Net” and “Work”. Different kinds of Nets do different things: protect, keep things in, keep unwanted things out, encourage, enhance, and catch. Work is defined by time, effort, money and activities.
It has two goals: give and take. If people only “take” it is really “prospecting” or “canvassing”. If people only give, it’s more like “mentoring” or “coaching”.
How can you make sure you’re networking with the right people? Make sure you have networks that have the six essentials. Any network activity is a waste of valuable networking “work” unless they:
- Are set up to consistently ADD new relevant people.
- Foster relationships to build mutual TRUST among members
- Mutually SUPPORT and PROMOTE all members
- COMUNICATE Network members current goals, needs, skills and abilities
- Actively promote the SHARING of information and ideas between Network members
- RECOGNIZE and REWARD the talents and value of individual Network members
How do your networks compare?
My suggestion. Set up a spreadsheet on these essentials. Then list each of your existing network activities along with your desired goal. Put a check mark or “X” if the Network actually does this essential as it relates to the goal you specified you wanted to accomplish from that activity.
Here is an example. It may seem a little “lame” but in Texas we talk to anyone about anything. Sometimes it can really pay off. If not, at least it passes the time. Independent research even bears me out. According to a study I once read, the best “pickup” place is a bookstore because it is safe and talking to others about yourself and what you enjoy is ok.
the book store
|Find a new
Probably, unless it is one of our great local bookstores like Bookpeople, BookWoman, Half Price Books or even the public library, this is not such a great place to network for a job or a client. These four locations actively encourage communication with book signings, discussion groups, etc. Even so, just don’t expect to do a lot of networking unless you attend an event, join a group or talk to people like the archivists at the Austin History Center (which is a wonderful resource library by the way).
By really looking at how you spread your net and how you work, you make sure your goal matches your network. And it almost guarantees your networking will go right.
What are your most productive networks? Send me a list of your favorites and how they represent the six essentials. Did I leave any special traits out that you value?
Thanks in advance and here’s to your networking success!