Lot of discussion about how to meet people and the way you say hello. Yes all of the technique driven first impression stuff matters but where are you networking? All of us need practice at just getting out there more and introducing ourselves, talking less and listening more. Having more concise answers and pithy questions at the ready. But what if your ladder is leaning on the wrong wall, you are fishing in unlucky waters, or you are mingling where there are no movers or shakers.
Here's the deal: Get out of your bubblicious world of contacts that are connected to what you already know. You have to get out of the strong tie interchange of comfortable social and professional networks and branch out to the weak tie world of new opportunities. Note: See Granovetter research and my related post.
Sure you can look at the job postings or respond to different parts of your Facebook feed, but you will be caught in your own gravitational orbit of familiarity.
We are all sitting on enormous networks we will never use or ever fully appreciate. Like all abundant resources we need to explore them and share them! It is crazy how much influence and power we are connected to. What if we opened up these contacts to others? Help others connect and then get connected. First rule of networking is always give first–to share.
Want a new job, meet new people? Get connected to the people you know and the people they know. On Linkedin it would be your 2nd and 3rd tier connections. Based on interests you get introduced to these connected worlds to learn about work, associations, hobbies, causes… You have a cup of coffee, join an online forum, attend an event through a weak tie connection. For example, you have a family member who is battling a disease, you want to learn about opera, you'd like to more involved with your identity (ethnic, gender, LBGT etc), you want to learn about self-driving cars. Personal stuff, random stuff that you are interested in. Ideally something you have promised yourself that you would pursue someday. Because fulfilling a little promise to yourself feels good! Or helping someone else connect feels great!
You start asking around who is connected with the Alzheimers Association, the Asian American Lawyers, Uber/Google/Tesla. You look deeper into your Linkedin account for such connections. You ask someone you know to share their contact or connection and be introduced and whamo you are off to the races. You have just traversed the weak tie superhighway to something new that you are interested in. The shared network handshake!
And your real handshake and your eye contact also need to be coordinated. Yes, your resume should be updated too.
But more important you need your list of interests!! What's on your list? Note: When is the last time you SWiVELed? Download SWIVEL_new_2017
So the key to networking is who you are networking with–it's the network, stupid!
Perhaps you will really learn about your interest and pursue more ways to get engaged with this interest and meet others who share this interest. But it is equally as likely that you may will be introduced to a new world of opportunities you never knew existed. Every new person will reveal something new, if you allow it. I did not say something amazing that rocks your world I said "new". We need new perspectives on career, happiness, balance, meaning, and fulfillment. We need all the help we can get. This is where the listening and open mind parts are so vital.
Meeting new people on the common ground of interest is interesting. It is not the bobbing and weaving to gain attention or be clever in the semi-dishonest dance of a cocktail reception. It is the sharing of curiosity and knowledge, and maybe even passion.
And you know when you are asked to talk about something that you care about–you like it. Not a burden or a favor. It is always nice and even fun to meet people with common interests and share.
You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want. Zig Ziglar
This type of networking opens your eyes and if you let it, your heart–to new people and ideas.
I have a personal goal to do this once a week! Not unusual for me to do it twice a week. To have the joy of meeting new people with shared interests through referrals or to agree to make the connections for others. It has become a lifestyle of sharing connections. It is also how I rode the Goodyear Blimp, traveled to Cuba, played golf at St Andrews, got job offers, and moved into our current house–but those are stories for another time.
Evaluate your network start linking to the other worlds you don't know and sharing with new people you will get to know!
Thanks for reading. John