Everyone’s a contact
For many people, networking feels like hard work. But if you really step back and think about the myriad ways to build your network, it’s quite simple. And it’s not confined to cocktail parties, mixers and conferences.
Networking, quite simply, is the act of building relationships. With everyone.
There is no contact too small, too irrelevant, or too distant. Yes, meeting peers in your industry, your job function, and within your professional community are important network members. But so are the ad reps who cold-call you for your business. So are the random people you meet at a concert or ballgame tonight.
The barista? Your bank clerk? Your spouse’s colleagues (no matter what he or she does)? All a part of your network.
Why? It’s simple. We live in a small and shrinking world, a world in which everyone’s connected to everyone. Your barista? She might play ultimate frisbee with your next big business deal. That ad rep who keeps cold-calling you? He might soon get a biz-dev job at a company you’ve been dying to do business with.
The guy at the ballgame? What if he mentions your name and/or company to someone in his network that helps you:
- Make your next sale
- Get your next great job
- Hire your next superstar employee
- Get you a great deal on the car you want to buy
- Find a better ad agency for your business
The lesson here? Always be networking. Always take the opportunity to meet a new person, introduce yourself, and make new contacts.
Then simply keep in touch. At a minimum, add them to your rolodex, or Outlook Contacts, or LinkedIn account. Get in the habit of sending quarterly e-cards to your entire network. The end-of-year holidays are the easiest excuse, but summertime well wishes aren’t bad either. And your network will appreciate you being proactive about staying in touch.
Take advantage of every opportunity to meet new people, make an impression, and expand your ability to get things done – for yourself and your business.