Written by Pamela Heward
Professionally edited by Kitty Carlisle
As a Career Transition Coach, I encounter resistance to networking on a regular basis. The perception I often hear is that networking means going to business mixers or Meetup groups, doing your 30 second commercial and exchanging leads. While these are possible options, they are not the most effective way to network and expand your sphere of influence.
A Network is defined as: a group or system of interconnected people or things. I believe this is what networking is all about. Chances are you already have a network of people in your life through your other interests: music, sports, art, children’s activities, family activities, associations, acquaintances through work … etc. These are people who already know you. The likelihood of getting a referral or some good ideas is very high within these groups of people.
Here are a few tips to help you reach out to these people that are already in your life and capture the power of your network:
- Make a list of people you know in your life right now. (remember that they don’t have to live where you live to qualify for this list)
- Eliminate anyone from the list that you have any discomfort or doubts about.
- Spend some time clarifying what you are looking for in the next chapter of your career and life. (Do not skip this step!) Reaching out to your network with an unclear message will diminish your success.
- Draft an interesting, fun message that you can email, post or send to your network. Share your excitement and passion for your future and have a clear request.
- If you would like to have a conversation with them, offer options: a phone conversation or meet in person over coffee or a meal. Be respectful of their time and if they say “I only have 30 minutes,” then make sure you stick to their timeframe.
- Follow up with a thank you note.
- Also, offer to do something for them! The best way to figure out what that is? ASK!
Bottom line, networking with people you know and trust takes the stress out of the process. So figure out who you know and whose brains you value. You will be glad you did.