Networking is essential regardless of your career path. Technology has changed the playing field through social media, but the traditional means are still used. Many people are still getting into social media through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all the new tools that are popping up. There is now Google+ that is becoming more popular.
Google+ realizes that human beings are naturally social and the interactions between us are happening mainly online. Google has created google+ to make interacting with people more smooth and efficient. You interact with everyone differently instead of just putting everyone in the friend category.
You can also learn more about google+ here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/introducing-google-project-real-life.html
In regard to networking, you should be doing this proactively. If you only start networking when you need to, for example when you are job searching, it is already too late for you. At this point you should just focus on who you already know. A good book that focuses on this thinking is “The Power of Who: You Already Know Everyone You Need to Know,” by Bob Beaudine. It’s important to create a positive association to your name. If you only contact someone when you need something from them chances are they will start deleting your emails or avoiding you when you reach out.
“What goes around comes around.” If you help someone connect with someone else, they might not return that favor right away, but there is that feeling of obligation they have which will pay off eventually. However, if you are just helping someone to get something out of it, you shouldn’t. You should be genuinely helping them; people can easily tell when you are being disingenuous.
Everyone has their own network, but some people over-protect their network. You need to give a little to get a little. If you keep your network too protected, it defeats the purpose of networking as it will be harder for you to build it. No one will want to share who they know with you in regard to the rules of reciprocity.Building Up Your Network:
It’s something that should be fairly innate. We are constantly meeting new people. It’s up to you to take the opportunities and time to make these meetings valuable. When at a networking event, it’s more important to have quality over quantity. You might think that the more people you meet at this event the more valuable it would be. You need to realize if you interact with someone briefly and are eagerly looking for the next person to talk to, this person can see your disinterest and it leaves a negative impression of you. They are less likely to remember this brief encounter, and your relationship will not be as beneficial compared to if you took the time to get to know the individuals you meet. Also in regards to Dunbar’s number, the average person can only maintain stable relationships with approximately 100-230 people.
You can read more about Dunbar’s Number here: http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2004/03/the_dunbar_numb.html
If you want to take a more proactive approach, set a goal of how many people you’d like to be connected to through social media. It’s surprising how many people you actually know if you actually sit down and think of it. Networking doesn’t come naturally to everyone but like everything the more you practice the better you will be at it.
Keep in mind the more you help other people connect the higher the chances are you will be able to connect to someone they know and increase your network.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how networking at Mediaspace Solutions has helped us and our CEO, Scott Jagodzinksi.