Recently I heard someone say, “Successful people network…. everyone else job hunts.”
In this time of uncertainty, you cannot make too many friends or new alliance partners. Get out and connect to others at industry breakfasts or happy hours (sort of depends on whether you are a morning person or not). The point is that you can do this on a regular basis without taking a lot of funds to do so, or miss work hours.
When you are in the yard of your home and you’d like some shade under a big tree, when is the best time to plant that tree? Of course it is many years before you need it. Well, networking works under the same principle.
Don’t just get to know people when you need something from them – get to know them over time, and build a trusting relationship, where you can be of service to them, and someday when (and if) you need to connect for whatever reason – they will be there for you.
Your social currency is valuable – work to develop it over time. Initially you can set a goal of connecting every week to someone in your field who is well connected and who you find interesting. How can you connect them to something they need or want?
You can try for three of these connections weekly if you are really interested in building your social capital and expanding your network.
Otherwise, go to an event within your industry or niche twice a month – and follow up with every interesting person you met. If you look for interesting – rather than people with specific characteristics – you’ll be looking from a bigger picture perspective. You may meet someone and have no idea how you could work with them – if so, just keep that idea in the back of your mind. Send them a thank you note for the great conversation you had (assuming that you did) and set their business card in a special place for follow up in the next month. Now the work begins – thinking of creative ways to incorporate an interesting company or individual into your business cycle.