Networking is a joy and a pain of mine. Let me explain: I love connecting people within my network to
other people, opportunities and organizations I believe will benefit them in some way. But it pains me to
go to bloodthirsty networking events where I feel like people are hocking their products and services at
me. The number one rule of networking is that you have to give to get. Instead of going into the room
with a “go-getter” mentality, shift that thought process to one of being a “go-giver.” Try being a
connector and watch it open more doors for you than aggressively trying to grab someone’s attention
with a 30-second sales pitch.
I pride myself on being a connector. If I know someone or something, I share it. I’ve received job
postings, business opportunities and met people who others would clamor to know and passed them
along through my channels with no tangible benefit coming from it. Why? Simply because I love being a
connector. Not to mention when you give of your resources you put yourself in the position to build
trusting relationships. Trust, there will be a day when you need a connection too!
Social media has increased the capacity at which we can all network. LinkedIn is one of my favorite sites
for business networking but most people either underutilize it or don’t know how to leverage it. A few
months ago I created a short list of tips called “Rock Out On Linked In.” This time around, I’ll give you
just a few to help you network better on the site to build stronger relationships.
1) JOIN GROUPS – If you do nothing else on LinkedIn, join a group and join the conversation. You
can learn so much in these microcosms that its mind blowing. People post jobs, tips, articles and
have shop talk about their respective fields and the causes they are passionate about. By placing
yourself in a group, you break down the walls to enter your networking circle and you can also
establish yourself as a thought leader or someone with reliable knowledge and skills.
2) UPGRADE TO PREMIUM – I didn’t realize how valuable the premium subscription was until I was
looking for a job. When you pay for LinkedIn, the tools that are available to you as compared to
the basic version will force you to network harder. You have access to many more people
through invitations and messaging than with the basic version and you can search for references
for those you are networking with just to check them out and make sure they’re legit.
3) LOOK AT YOUR CONNECTIONS’ CONNECTIONS – I’ll admit, in the beginning I just got on
LinkedIn, threw up a profile and accepted people I knew. But once I learned the true power in
the site, I began researching the connections of people within my network that I trusted. This
helped me when I was looking for a connection to a company and when I was considering
relocating. Choose a few people you know and trust and research who they know and trust.
Sure, they won’t know every single person if they have 600+ connections, but it will again
reinforce their validity in business and help you see whom you can easily connect with or rely on
as a reference.
Being a connector means knowing how to connect others, but also how to connect yourself. Many times
opportunities are missed simply because you don’t know who to go to. As the old adage says, it’s not about what you know it’s who you know. And if social media is closing the gap on the six degrees of separation theory, your next opportunity might be just one person away.