Networking is all the hoopla when it comes to finding new opportunities. There are 1,000 articles per day (+1 if you include this) on how to network effectively and why it’s important. I wanted to share five truths I’ve learned about networking. There are more, but I’ll leave those to you in the comments.
The best time to reach out to people is when you don’t need them.
Everybody knows that one person who when they get an email from them, they know its gonna be a request. That email often gets left bold and unread until all the other emails that bring them value are read and/or replied to. Don’t be the bold email. What value can you add for your contacts? An interesting article you read? A person you can connect them to that will help them in their pursuits? A congratulation on a new job or promotion you noticed on Facebook or LinkedIn? Even just a “how are you doing and how can I help?” There are plenty of options. This reminds me…
Informational interviews are for information.
When most people agree to informational interviews, you are actually giving them something: the opportunity to share their expertise and feel like they’re helping you. An informational interview is not the time to try to sell yourself for a job or opportunity, though you can ask them if they know anyone else you should talk to or if they know of any opportunities available. Save that for the end of the meeting though.
And in keeping in touch with your informational interview contacts, remember the previous point about giving. Don’t be the person only reaching out to find out if any new opportunities are available. Don’t kill your relationship capital.
A flashy business card alone does not make you memorable.
Business cards are important, but they don’t make you memorable. The conversations you have do. The business card should just prompt a memory of the great interaction the person had with you. Spend less time agonizing over business card design and getting a ton of cards out there; more time on how you’ll be a great conversationalist and what value you can add for the people you meet.
Networking is a long tail opportunity strategy.
A lot of people hate networking because they think its awkward. I think they really hate it because it doesn’t (usually) produce immediate results. If it did, they’d be all over it at every opportunity. Relationships are built over time, not in a introductory meeting. Accept this and stop tapping your fingers on your desk waiting for results. There’s another thing about networking though:
You can’t be in the right place at the right time if you don’t know the right people.
The unspoken key to reaping the rewards of networking is timing. You never know when an opportunity will present itself, or when a contact will meet someone that you should talk to. But the more people you meet and build relationships with, the higher the probability of timing working in your favor.
What lessons and truths have you learned about networking? Share them in the comments.