Networking. It’s a funny word, isn’t it? It sounds so formal. Like something you need to have a scheduled appointment for. But, when it boils down to it, networking is really just a conversation. Sure, it tends to center on your professional life. But, the most memorable networking conversations have some personality and real-life touches sprinkled in.
I recently wrote this article about “old school” networking methods, and it got me thinking. When you hear the term “networking” you likely think of either a formal networking event or LinkedIn. But, there are opportunities everywhere for you to be networking.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that both networking events and LinkedIn are absolutely awesome resources for professional networking. But, they shouldn’t be the end of the road for you. So, here are five other places you should be spreading the word about the awesome things you’re accomplishing!
Networking with your friends and family? That sounds awkward, doesn’t it? But, think about it. That friend you get together with once per month for drinks—could she adequately explain your career, along with some of your key skills and strengths? Could your Aunt Judy give the gist of your experience to her colleague who’s looking for a freelancer?
My guess is, probably not. So, while you don’t need to have a formal networking conversation with your friends, family, and loved ones, you might want to take the time to make sure they thoroughly understand what exactly you do. After all, they all have networks of their own, and you want to make sure they can effectively spread the word about you!
You probably get those flyers and emails from your school alumni association, right? And, if you’re anything like me, you toss them out without a second look, just assuming that they’re begging for money.
Sure, your alumni association likes to grovel for the occasional donation. But, they’re still an awesome resource for networking with people that could help push your professional life and career along. Plus, you already have some common ground—making that random introduction feel a heck of a lot more natural!
Your church. Your weekly fitness class. The humane society you volunteer with. They’re all chock full of people who might need your services and expertise—or, at the very least, chock full of people that know someone who needs you.
Instead of engaging in random conversations about the current weather or whether your favorite sports team won on Sunday, consider sparking up a discussion about what each of you does for a living. You never know what great resources you’ll tap into!
Wait, networking with your current network? Is that even possible? How does that work?
Chances are, you likely make connections, have a conversation, and then leave it at that. If that new connection didn’t have anything promising for you at that exact moment, you dropped them like a hot potato.
Well, stop doing that! Instead, put in a little shameless plug for yourself. End your conversation with something like, “If you ever hear of anybody looking for an accomplished content creator, please feel free to pass my name along. Here’s my business card/LinkedIn profile/website/phone number/whatever you want to give them.” You never know where that might take you.
I love LinkedIn. But, sometimes I think Twitter can be even more effective for networking. It doesn’t have that atmosphere of expectation to it. So, I love using a quick tweet to reach out to people I’m interested in connecting with. They typically respond, which leads to an engaging conversation and an instant personal connection. It’s like magic!
What are some of your favorite places to network and get your name out there? I’d love to hear them.
Now, get out there and make things happen! Until next time!