I love networking. With few exceptions, I leave each networking encounter smarter than when I arrived and with a new or renewed professional relationship that typically pays dividends for years and years to come for all parties. But, let’s face it, networking is hard work.
There have been times – namely when I have taken on full-time consulting assignments or when work is especially busy – that I have fallen down on my networking, allowing my networking efforts to go nearly dormant. I am disappointed with myself every time that happens. Don’t let it happen to you. You never know what good can come from having a simple cup of coffee with someone. Realizing that is motivation in and of itself. Irrespective of how busy you are, you have 24 hours each day to make good on your promise to yourself to connect with people – be sure to slot in time as frequently as possible to do so. It is worth the investment of time and the cost of a cup of coffee (ok, ok, a Coke).
For those of you who are job seekers and utilizing networking as your best tool for discovering your next opportunity, good for you! I suggest that you treat networking as a full-time job. I mean it! Get up, get dressed and go to work! And, I don’t mean roll out of bed at 8am or 9am and wander into your home office to see who sent you emails overnight that you might (or might not) wish to respond to. I mean get up, take a shower, shave and/or put on your make up, comb your hair, get dressed as if you were going to a corporate job and hit the street!
If networking is your full time job, you should be expected in the “office” (see my post regarding places to meet if you wonder where your office is… be sure to add the public library to your list of options) no later than 8:30am or so. Be sure to have your list of objectives for what you hope to accomplish during the day in mind. You are your own boss – hold yourself accountable for getting to work on time, ready to be productive, ready to schedule and/or attend (networking) meetings.
So here’s the lesson:
- Establish a routine: Whether you have a job, networking should be part of your daily professional routine.
- If you are unemployed, networking is your full-time job – you must own it.
- Set goals – realistic (must haves) and stretch. Your goals may be daily, weekly and/or monthly in nature, but set them. Have an idea of how many people you would like to network with, who they are, what industries they come from, who you are going to ask for referrals, when your next Coffee-Lunch-Coffee encounter should take place.
Tomorrow, networking as a team sport…