A recent article over on the CPO Agenda on how to get in with the in crowd had some great tips on networking, especially for those new to the on-line networking scene. Diving right in, they were:
Social networking platforms allow you to reach out to people you haven’t seen or spoken to in a while that you used to work with. It’s often easiest to start networking with people you already know.
Choose Your Platforms Carefully
The article points out that LinkedIn is the most effective and valuable site for professionals, not Facebook, which is great for friends and family, but not business. SI agrees and is quite happy to see that there are experts who know the difference. It also gets Twitter right. Use it to follow companies to get information on changes to the business, best practice, or new legislation but don’t expect much more from it.
Systemize Your Contacts Strategy
Start by making a list of people you have not connected with in a while who have been helpful to you or who you have respect for and create a plan to keep in touch with them regularly.
Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone to Meet New People
Start by offering to do projects that are outside of your normal scope of work that will help you meet new people and suppliers, but for which you will have support from your team, who can often make the initial introductions.
Only Attend Events You are Interested In
Not only are many events a waste of time, but many don’t draw the crowd they advertise. Plus, even if the event draws a decent mix of professionals, if the event holds no interest to you, people will sense it and may assume that they have no interest to you, which will destroy any chances you have for good networking. Also, try to select an event where people you know typically go as well and arrange to meet up with them while there. Not only will it insure that the event is not a total waste of time, but your connections can introduce you to new people.
And, when using LinkedIn:
Have a Good Profile
It’s important to have a strong and authentic profile that allows people to see how you have developed throughout your career. And don’t forget the picture.
Although you want a strong network of at least 100 people, don’t connect with this anybody and everybody. First of all, you can only maintain real relationships with so many people. (British anthropologist Robin Dunbar puts the upper limit at 150 friends based on our brain size.) Secondly, you don’t want to look like a connection whore, err, super networker. In-depth network analyses show that they are not the source of online conversations. They are the sink hole where everything ends up.
Remember Online Etiquette
Simply put, it’s not okay to send direct messages or ask for favours from people you don’t know and haven’t met. You should be introduced first.
It is Better to Give than Receive
Build a reputation as a giver to a community. However, don’t just share interesting articles that are relevant to your network. Also take the time to explain why and add to the conversation.