What is Networking?
While networking can have varying definitions, I tend to think of it simple interaction with people regardless of the time or setting. Some people might classify it as a specific interaction and view networking as the process of engaging with one or more parties for the primary purpose of obtaining something tangible. That tangible attainment can come in various forms, whether it be a simple connection, a job, a reference, a potential customer, or any other imaginable purpose. The setting for such interaction is frequently thought of as a gathering organized by a particular group, where the majority of time is spent mingling among myriad strangers. This is not typically the ideal environment for genuine trust, attention, or other building blocks of solid relationships to be built because of the inherent cynicism present amongst attendees. Thoughts such as “are these people only talking to me because they think I’m the connection to something they covet?” or “am I only talking to this person because they’re sporting a CEO title?” are not uncommon in this setting. I typically avoid these type of “networking” events altogether because I generally find them to be inorganic. However, I still recognize that networking in some form is paramount for future success and have seen three forms of it work for myself.
1. Call or Text Everyone in Your Address Book
Think about the amount of time it took to build your address book to the volume it’s currently at. Chances are that most of the numbers and names in it are in need of serious dusting outside of regular family and friends. It’s important to recognize that every number is in your phone for a reason, and it doesn’t hurt to periodically be reminded of what that reason is (or to make sure you haven’t been deleted). Staying in periodic touch (every 6 months, for example) with your entire address book will allow you to maintain a pulse on what those people are up to. You never know if those past connections have evolved in a way that could aid your current pursuits, or if you are now in a position to aid someone else with their own pursuits.
2. Message at Least Three People Per Day on LinkedIn
An overlooked, yet powerful aspect of LinkedIn is its ability to allow people to cold message virtually anybody with a created profile. Because the platform has increasingly become standard amongst employers and employees, it serves as an incredibly profound communication tool. That allows for unprecedented access to individuals at all levels, with the ability to find anyone who’s currently doing whatever you desire to do. Let’s say you play the odds game and reach out to three people per day for a year. That amounts to over 1,000 people that you would have contacted. If only 1% of those people end up giving you the time of day and it leads to anything substantive, that amounts to about 10 new connections you will have made with people who are aligned with your pursuits. The addition of 10 new resources over the course of a year is a win in anyone’s book.
3. Go to Events Catered to Your Interests
Nothing beats getting out of the house and actually interacting with people. A simple search regarding events happening nearby that are catered to your interests will unearth a world of people who you know already share commonalities with you. Attending these events and meeting with other attendees who have a predetermined shared interest allows for a higher chance of organic conversations to be had. These will probably lead to more worthwhile and enjoyable interactions. For example, websites such as Eventbrite, Meetup, and ZogSports have served as reliable resources for interest-specific events in New York.
Cool Story. Now What?
If there’s time to like a photo or video on [insert social media platform here], time to check your timeline, or even time to walk from Point A to Point B, then there’s time to send a message of any length to someone or attend an event of interest. As long as you have a smartphone with an internet connection, then you will continue to have the power to control your own destiny. It’s not wise to waste that power away by consistently engaging in the omnipresent traps of mindless behavior (social media, gossip, memes, etc.) in lieu of activity that can push you to the next level. If there was any confusion as to how to move closer to that next level, these 3 tips can serve as a baseline.
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