Make friends before you need them (Harvey MacKay “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty”). Networking should be an ongoing activity starting now and ending never. You should be networking when you have a job, when things are going smoothly, when you need to use your network to find work or job leads. Networking should be as natural as breathing, but for many of us it is not. I am a late comer to networking. It was not part of my past. My parents did not network and my friends and coworkers did not either. If I can do it, you can too. Networking is easy. You can prospect or network on linkedin just like you can face-to-face. Networking in person or on the internet is the same.
- You would not walk up to a woman on the street and ask for a mid-level sales job. You don’t know if this person is in the position to hire you nor do you have any relationship (history) for her to make that decision.
- It is much different if you walk up to a friend you have been exchanging messages and a couple phone calls with over the past 5 months and ask if she knows of a job opening.
Look at networking as making friends before you need them. Networking is NOT a list of names. That is where you start. Networking is building relationships with these people and becoming friends. Keith Ferrazzi in his book Never Eat Alone says, “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.” Most of the best LinkedIn networkers agree with this “paying forward” idea. If you are networking on Linkedin, here are some ways to begin putting up the building of friendship one brick at a time.
- Recommend people in your network. Write at least a recommendation a week. Be honest.
- Suggest possible connections to others by forwarding a profile with a note about why the connection may be good
- Answer at least a question a week.
What if you are already needing that network to get job leads or prospects? DO NOT start contacting them asking for job and sales leads. DON’T! Start by recommending 10 people who you want to ask. Then find 20 in your network and see if you can help them make connections. Find 5 you want to contact directly and ask them a simple question about the industry, something you want to know, but nothing that is going to take a lot of time to answer. With the question, ask if there is any way you can help them. Now you have paid for your help, start asking some quesitons and continue recommending, connecting and asking. You are on your way to networking success.