Updated: Aug 27, 2019
Here are some basic Networking tips that I wrote over 10 years ago. It was initially targeted to people who are looking for a job. However, they can be used in many different business and personal areas. I decided to revise it when writing an article for entrepreneurs regarding preparing for a business meeting. I realized that entrepreneurs oftentimes work alone or in small groups, and yet, most likely have a much larger network that can help them develop their ideas into a successful businesses.
I invite you to add your comments, thoughts and experience.
Before you start; Here's a cute video I came across that explains social networking in plain English.
1) Map out your network
Everyone has a network, sometimes you don't even realize it. If this is not obvious to you.. Then MAP IT OUT. Write down everyone you know, don’t worry about how to approach them or if they are relevant for now.
Start with Personal acquaintances : Family, Friends , Acquaintances (friends of friends), Community (Kid's friend's parents, People in the gym/pool/religious group, Doctor/receptionist/ Insurance agent, Someone you meet commuting )
Then look at your Professional Network: Colleagues, Customers, Managers, Suppliers, Teachers and Course leaders and Fellow Students
Personal story – I found out about two new, career changing positions while casually talking to someone at the pool – and I rarely go to the pool..
2) When should I contact someone?
People like to help, and yet you don’t want to be over-intrusive or bothersome. My recommendation is to stop and plan.
· Define what need – based on the 4 types of meetings (Information on a market, Brainstorm on possibilities, Partner, Fund raising or customers)
· Decide who is the best person to help you achieve your objective ( There may be more than one person – who is easiest/who is more important) You can ask your network for advice on whom you can talk to.
3) How should I contact a person?
· Focus and Be Specific in requesting help - People are willing to help – but they need to know exactly what your expectations are and why they should use their contacts. Give them as much information as possible to make the contact (MAKE IT EASY-write the letter, send them bullets of "talking points" to make a phone call)
· Clearly state how much time you want and for what purpose - when initially calling someone, tell them in a word what you want (I'd like your advice, I would like to meet, and Ask them if it's convenient for them to talk now and if not – when)
Know what you want to get out of the meeting, know as much about the person/organization you are talking to and define in advance what other types of contacts you want from this person.
Be respectful of the time you have been given and respect the fact that just because you asked, does not mean you will receive – you may be asking for something the person is not able to help you with or unwilling for many different reasons.
6) Thank you
Thank the person for their time and keep them updated on your status