First become a “student of the game.” How? Read everything you can get your hands on about networking.
My favorites are:
- Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.
- Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty by Harvey Mackay.
- Make Your Contacts Count by Baber and Waymon.
- Little Black Book of Connections by Jeffrey Gitomer
- Masters Of Networking by Misner and Morgan. Compendium of articles by some of the worlds top networkers.
Second, Google: Who are the world’s best networkers? Tons of great stuff comes up.
Third, the term is netWORK not netFUN. To be a great networker you do not have to be an extrovert but you will have to WORK at it. The Internet and Social Media make networking almost painless. Rejection is simply, someone not replying versus never taking your phone call.
Fourth, world class networkers spend time everyday nourishing and developing their network. It is not a lot of time just 10 to 20 minutes max. Most of us are not that disciplined but could you spend just 10 to 20 minutes a week?
What do the world class networkers do in that 10 to 20 minutes?
George H.W. Bush, for his entire political career, would write five handwritten notes every week. They were always short and sweet. The themes were just a “thank you” or I was “thinking about you” today.
I have stolen his idea but use email and just say things like, Mary, hope all is well. I was thinking about you today when I read how well you guys did in the first quarter. Best, Bill. That’s….count ‘em…25 words. OR Mary, I just read about your work with autistic children and wanted to say thank you. You are truly making a difference. Best, Bill. [24 words] Believe it or not I have gotten a 100% response rate. A little nudge, how long does it take to write a 25 word or less email? 😊
Fifth, looking for a connection at a company you would like to work for is not looking for a and recommendation or an endorsement. This is something you always need to explain. The dialogue is, John I am looking to talk to folks at ABC, Inc. to learn about the culture, management style, and financial strength. I want to emphasize I am not looking for a recommendation, just an introduction.
Sixth, follow-up. The “lack of” follow-up is the single biggest networking mistake. To avoid this simply enter the follow-up date in your e-calendar. So when you open your laptop or iPhone on that day, up pops: Call Janet to ask her about her contacts at ABC. It is fool proof.