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Monday, July 14, 2008

Network, Network, Network

We have all heard it before, "Its not what you know, but who you know." Networking is definitely the way to improve your chances of success, whether that is success at work, in your social life, or just in your everyday dealings.

Many people find networking difficult, as it is "like a muscle, you've got to work it," my wise, older friend Jay tells me regularly. I agree. As gregarious as I am, I haven't taken networking seriously enough, nor have I viewed it as a discipline. The first step is to admit you have a problem...

I was reading an article at Forbes, titled "How To Network Your Way Up The Corporate Ladder." It is a great article, and here is the best quotation:

"Successful networkers make themselves visible--they put themselves out there. And they back up that ubiquity with credibility."

So how do you do that? Here are the steps Forbes suggests:

1. Join Professional Organizations
This is the first and most basic step to networking. But do more than just attend monthly meetings. Join a committee or run for the board so you get visibility and earn credibility among more senior professionals. Get to know the leadership of the organization since those people know so many others in your field and can introduce you to influential colleagues.

2. Lunch
It’s important to network within your company too. These are the people you will run into for years even after leaving your current job. Lunch is an easy way to get to know colleagues. Instead of working through yet another lunch, set one day aside to eat outside the office with co-workers. Don’t stick with your three closest cubicle-mates; invite those people from different departments you speak to and e-mail regularly but rarely see in person.

3. Give and Receive
Have a short and snappy description of your job ready for when you meet new colleagues, attend a business event or meet clients. The goal is to get people to remember you. Reciprocate by showing an interest in what others do.

4. Find a Mentor
Look for someone on the job who has accomplished the things you hope to achieve. Pop by the person’s office now and then to ask for advice and for a critique of some of your work. If you get advice, heed it and then report back on how you implemented it.

5. Your Starting Class
Get to know people who started their jobs around the same time you came on board, to follow their careers throughout your own. They’re people who eventually become senior employees and are in a position to hire or recommend potential new employees. A brief e-mail every few months to find out how they’re doing will go a long way.

6. Pay It Forward
Building relationships takes credibility, and you earn that by helping other business professionals. If you help a colleague from another department meet a deadline or solve a problem, that person is more likely to introduce you to his or her network.

7. Be Visible
Don’t just attend industry conferences; give presentations while you’re there. Also, write for an industry trade publication or start a blog about your field. People will introduce themselves to you and seek your advice.

This is great advice from Forbes. Now all you (and me!) have to do is follow it, and exercise that muscle. Don't forget social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and your college/university alumni groups.

1 comment:

Johnny P. said...

Forbes knows exactly how important networking is. The seven steps listed such as joining professional organizations, lunching, and being visible all can help and further your career. Putting your name out there will help you in the long run. I recently read about Networking & PR on the PR blog by CEO of 5W PR, Ronn Torossian. He discusses when you put smart successful people in a room together, they will figure out a way to make money. This is the ultimate goal of networking.

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