Stop networking that way

networking that way
Stop networking that way

When I was in college, I read about networking and the importance of keeping a thick rolodex of contacts.  It made sense at the time, and I started my career with great intentions. I can be an outgoing person, but I found it hard to meet and connect with people professionally.  When I did meet new people in a meeting or conference, we would exchange business cards, never to communicate again.  I still have a stack of business cards in my desk from people that I don’t remember.

Technology enables volume

Today, we have networking tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Plaxo.  If we meet someone, we can do the business card exchange to get the pertinent information to connect with them.  We can even use our smart phone or tablet real time to send a connection request.  But the online and electronic tools just allow you to continue acquiring names without knowing who they are. It helps with the quantity of contacts, but you still need to make quality contacts. I decided that networking that way was the wrong approach.

Stop and think about why we network.  We want to help each other do business.  It could be to make a contact at a company that you want to sell to or to get help finding a job.  So suppose you are in job search mode and need help getting an interview at a company.  You start looking at your contacts in LinkedIn.  You find a connection that you met at a conference five years ago who works at that company and you contact them.  If you haven’t had any contact since the conference, they probably won’t remember you any more than you remember them.

Networking that way doesn’t work

You can remind them that you are LinkedIn buddies and even where you met (if you remember), but if this person may not know anything about you.  They have no basis to give any type of recommendation, and might be reluctant to help you get the interview.  If you had kept in touch with them over the years, your chances would be much better.

Here are some strategies for developing better quality contacts:

  • When you meet someone with common interests at a conference, a training session or just a chance encounter, connect with them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter or some other social networking site that you both use.  Then, about 1 or 2 weeks later send them a note with a comment about the event or something they shared with you.  It’s best to ask them a question so they’ll be more apt to reply, reinforcing the chances they’ll remember you later.
  • Keep your profile on LinkedIn up to date.  This includes a complete summary of your education and career.
  • Once you’re connected via social media, post updates on a fairly regular basis.  This varies depending on the social media tool.  On LinkedIn, once every week or two is sufficient, but updates 4-5 times a week creates noise that will eventually cause them to ignore you.  Tweets can be done more frequently.  The goal is to be consistent and relevant to keep your name top-of-mind, without bombarding them with information.
  • Share articles on the social media sites that you find interesting and that you think your connections and followers will also find interesting.  If it applies directly to what one individual does or is interested in email the article to them directly with a personal note.
  • When your connections post changes to their profile, contact them to congratulate them or ask how the changes affect their career.
  • Randomly check in with them.  Every couple of weeks, select a few of your connections that you haven’t communicated with for a while and send an email asking how they’re doing.

See my related post: Networking and Collecting Names

Developing a voluminous network will give you a lot more contacts, particularly when you include your 2nd and 3rd level connections that you can get introduced to via your direct connections.  But developing better quality connections will improve your chances of getting the introduction, or better yet, an endorsement with the introduction.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms. 

Related Posts
Lessons Learned from a Master Networker
One of my best friends died last week. As toddlers, Robb and I played together in the nursery of our church. We were in the same kindergarten class. We were ...
READ MORE
Critical Consulting Skill: Selling Services
Two of the most critical measures for a consultant are selling services and utilization.  Whether you are an independent consultant working for yourself, or an employee of a large consulting firm, ...
READ MORE
The Art of Schmoozing
One of the things that has always made consulting so interesting to me is the multi-faceted tasks a consultant performs.  I’ve found that roles in non-consulting companies have a tendency ...
READ MORE
Why Do You Want to Work From Home?
Working from home is a growing trend in the business world.  In an effort to cut back on office space and other overhead costs, many companies have set up their ...
READ MORE
4 Ways to Market Yourself within the Consulting Firm
Imagine that you have developed a soft drink that tastes better than Coke.  It has fewer calories, comes in a biodegradable can and contains nutrients that will make its users ...
READ MORE
The Proactive Job Search
You’ve probably known people who are in perpetual job-search mode.  As soon as they get a new job, they’re actively looking for their next job.  I’ve known people who don’t ...
READ MORE
Everything I Need to Know About Networking I Learned from My High School Pals
Last weekend I spend three days in Lexington and Louisville, KY with two life-long friends.  Jon and Robb have been friends of mine since grade school.  We were good friends ...
READ MORE
Win Win Networking
I attended my high school class reunion this past weekend.  It was a great time and nice to see some old friends and acquaintances, two of which I hadn’t seen in ...
READ MORE
Consulting Fail: Burning Bridges
At one point in my career, I worked for a top tier consulting firm that was acquired by another firm.  As happens in just about any merger or acquisition, management announced ...
READ MORE
Networking and Collecting Names
I recently connected on Facebook with a childhood friend I haven’t seen or heard from since 5th grade.  We were both amazed by the fact that we remembered so much about ...
READ MORE
Lessons Learned from a Master Networker
Critical Consulting Skill: Selling Services
The Art of Schmoozing
Why Do You Want to Work From Home?
4 Ways to Market Yourself within the Consulting
The Proactive Job Search
Everything I Need to Know About Networking I
Win Win Networking
Consulting Fail: Burning Bridges
Networking and Collecting Names