If you are like me your read/hear a lot about networking, but what is networking? According to Webster: the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business. Most of us think it is just collecting business cards or adding you to my address book.
What we need to do is to think like a salesman. Think of the people you network with as leads. You need to have a goal each day and week of how many new leads you want to get. Then you work them. Working a lead sounds bad but it is actually beneficial for both parties in this case. Remember the definition of networking… “the exchange of information or services” and “productive relationships.” That sounds like the classic win-win to me.
You need to first have a way to keep track of your network. You can use Outlook, a free CRM or paid CRM. There are probably other options but those first come to mind. Once you have them in the database you want to put them in groups by industry, location, profession and/or industry. Next, you want to set up Google alerts for each group. This will help you find news stories that you can then share with your network. Be sure that you also connect to your contacts on LinkedIn, Twitter, FB, and other social networks. You did stop your rants on FB right?
Recruiters are using social networking more and more in the recruiting and selection process so you need to be sure you are out there and you are professional. You can even write a few “whitepapers” on subjects that you are knowledgeable about.
Keep notes about when you send out messages and posts to refer back to later. You can also create reminders for some of your network to be sure you are staying in touch with them. Remember, networking is a two-way street. You need to give before you can receive.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.