Wondering where to start networking? This is a question I am asked so frequently in fact, that there is no reason to feel awkward or embarrassed, in admitting you’ve wondered about this too.
Where to start, when you don’t know where to start?
Here’s what I’d suggest if we were sitting in a book club, networking together right now: flip to page 56 and Chapter 3 of Build Your Dream Network.
But as we’re not sitting together in a book club, networking, here’s the deal – we’ve had the networking equation all wrong! ALL wrong, for a very long time!
When we’re told to start networking or get out and network, our reaction is to rush into the activity of networking (the “tactic” of connecting with others), without giving a terrific amount of thought to the why of networking (the purpose, outcomes or goals) and/or the who of networking (a person or group of people who are somehow going to magically understand what we’re seeking and deliver it during the first encounter).
No wonder we hesitate to start networking! What a vague, anxiety causing process – which gets networking off on the wrong foot (and makes it such an unpleasant activity at times).
Time to change the equation! Flip it! Start at the other end (outcome)!
Your new networking formula should look like this:
I’ve written on this very subject before, so here’s more (before you leap to the summary and the free, downloadable worksheet):
- Before You Network Like Crazy, Take These Action Steps
- Improve Your Networking By Thinking Like A Marketer
- How To Build A New Network–With Jennifer Johnson (podcast)
- Networks And Networking: More Than A Cocktail Party (podcast)
- Ask Yourself Two Simple Questions
To summarize, when you start networking I want you to:
- start by setting a goal (or breaking down a big goal, into smaller, tasks or milestones);
- think about which connections or network you need to ask for help based on defined goals (’cause not every network can or is able to help you); then
- plan your networking activities or tactics based on the person you’re seeking help from (’cause networking effectively means thinking about the other person, so for example, there is not point in using the “invite so and so for coffee to chat” networking formula when the person you need to network with, hates coffee or lives in another city).
And here’s more help for you on this (as I don’t want you to struggle off the networking starting block): a handy, dandy #BYDN worksheet to download. Use it weekly to focus your networking activities and refine your networking asks.