I’m not sure when I first heard the phrase “always be networking,” but I bet it was around the same time I heard the phrase “always be closing.” It’s a phrase I’ve always loved, and it’s a phrase that I’ve tried to live by (ask my friends, they’ll confirm that).
You’ve probably seen tons of posts on how to network, where to network, networking 101, etc, but most of those posts assume that you already know how to network. More often than not, I meet people that don’t even know where to start because it’s an overwhelming task to build a network. Networking is, in fact, the easiest thing to do because you do it every day, but you need to capitalize on it when it’s happening. If you can address what works for you in networking, then you’ll win no matter your personality type (introverted, extroverted, quiet, spastic, or whatever).
Networking is the nitrous oxide to the drag race of your career. If you have the networking skills, then you will go further, faster than anyone else because it’s all about who you know. If you don’t know how to make connections with people, then you’re at a severe disadvantage. That said, learn what works for you because how you like to network isn’t going to be the same as anyone else. Do you like to to go to events? Do you like to send emails instead? Are you somebody that really enjoys networking on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook? Decide what works for you because that’s your foundation for networking and what you’re most comfortable with, which will make it easier for you to talk to people.
After you’ve decided what you’re most comfortable with, create a daily routine or checklist for networking. I’m a believer in the power of checklists, and it was reinforced when I read Atul Gawande’s book “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Done Right.” He wrote a lot about checklists providing a mental safety net because problems can be vastly complex. How to build a good network during your career is a complex problem because it takes time. Engaging a checklist for your networking can help at the outset as you build it, as you maintain it, or as you try to make it work for you with a job or partnership opportunity.
For example, I have certain LinkedIn groups send me updates daily, others weekly. I’ll have certain event newsletters sent at the beginning of the week so I know what’s happening for the week in Boston. I check Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to see if there’s anything important going on with anyone I know. Staying involved and engaged helps with your network because it keeps you relevant with other people that you may not see all the time. Check out the job changes on LinkedIn and say congratulations to somebody you haven’t seen in awhile if they’re doing awesome stuff. Tweet at someone if they share something cool. Hell, pick five people in your contact list at the beginning of the week, and send them emails just saying “How are you doing? Up to anything exciting?” All of these are easy things to put on a daily checklist so you can get them done quickly.
None of this matters unless you’re consistent. Kiss all of the work you’ve done for your network goodbye if you’re not doing it every day. You have to think like a hustler if you want to be good at networking. I can’t stress that enough. Networking never stops because networking opportunities are always around us, and the more you hustle, the more reward you’ll get from your networking.
And, we’re back where we started this post: always be networking. Getting the networking fundamentals down and working for you is like grabbing all the low-hanging fruit. The more you network, the better you’ll get at it, and the more fruit you’ll have because of it. Regardless of your industry, identify how you like to network and engage people, make a checklist to network, and do it every day until it becomes routine. You’ll be unstoppable if you practice those three things in your networking.
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