So much emphasis is placed on networking these days, especially with the popularity of social media. Thought leaders everywhere tell us we HAVE to network… get our names out there… exchange business cards… develop relationships… talk to everyone in the room. So, once you’ve done that, then what? Are you done? Do you just sit back and wait for the phone calls, emails and web hits to come rolling in?
Are you kidding me?!
Dr. Burt Smith wrote an excellent book called “The Great Game of Networking” that I have recommended to several people since it came out a couple years ago. It’s a quick, fun read that is full of wonderful tips about how to make the most out of your networking activities and to truly be a part of the game. One of the simplest, and most often overlooked, tips in the book is:
Never Leave a Conversation Empty Handed.
What a concept! At the end of every conversation, it is imperative that we ask for the person’s business card (and, of course, offer ours in exchange!). If I can’t contact a person, they aren’t truly part of my network.
You see, networking isn’t just about getting your name out… It’s just as important to find out what everyone else is doing. This is a two-way street, folks!
Another thing Dr. Burt talks about is helping out members of your network. This isn’t about personal gain… It’s about actually trying to help someone out. Connecting two separate, unrelated entities in your network makes your ties that much stronger.
Think about it… If my friend, Sally, has a project that I can’t help her with, but I put her in touch with my friend, Bob, who can help her, we all win. Sally’s project is done, Bob gets some new business and I wind up looking like a hero.
So… You have a network. That’s great. Now go help someone with it.