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Your life is comprised of various assets. There is physical capital such as money, investments, homes, cars and other belongings. There is human capital, such as your ability to work, think and do things. And there is social capital, which the invisible benefit that your network provides.
Know this, when you network, it is not an expense of your time. Do not think of it in those terms. Certainly some networking is more productive than others, but understand that any networking is an investment.
Think about networking as a component of building your personal wealth. When you network, you build value in your life. So get out and network. As you do, feel as if your net worth is growing… because it is.
It is vital that you understand three recurring networking themes:
Beyond these, however, you also need to have the correct networking mindset, as attitude is everything:
• Believe It Works … Whether you believe networking will work or you don’t, you are going to be right. If you believe in it, you will conduct yourself with confidence and that will draw people to you. If you are skeptical of the activity or its potential, that will serve to repel people from you. Thus, BELIEVE!
• You Network Well … Remember: Everything you do is networking… Everything you have ever achieved has involved networking … Everywhere you go is networking … Everyone you interact with involves networking. KNOW THIS … You are much better at networking than you likely give yourself credit.
• Be Of The Right Mind … Not every day is going to be a good day. As such, if you are not in the right frame of mind (and cannot get there), save your networking for another day … stay home … off the phone … away from e-mail.
In life, attitude is everything. The same is true in networking. Before you network, get the right attitude.
Networking is nothing new. In fact, it has been studied for years. As such, there are recurring themes within it. If you understand these three concepts, you will be ahead of the vast majority of the working population.
The Golden Rule of Networking: This rule states that effective networking is about giving to others first (with no expectation of any return) and simply hoping that things will come back to you. Your entire networking existence should be about finding ways to help or give to others … referrals, businesses, contacts, information, encouragement, your time … give, give, give. Trust me, it will come back to you.
The Quintessential Elements Of Networking Relationships: All things being equal, we do business with people we Know, Like, and Trust. In fact, all things being unequal, we still do things with those we Know, Like, and Trust. So everything you do involving others needs to center on you getting to KNOW them (and not necessarily them you) … you being perceived as LIKABLE to them … and you conducting yourself so they feel they can TRUST you.
Every Contact Has Opportunity: We are all a little guilty of this: Dismissing someone as not being of consequence to us. Know this, however, while everyone may not be your next employer or key business contact, everyone is somehow connected to one (directly or indirectly). Thus, treat everyone as if they have that potential and eventually good things will follow.
Understand (and really think about) these themes. They are important, as they serve the foundation upon which all effective networking activity is built.
Networking Works. It may not work exactly how you want … It may not work exactly when you want … It may not work exactly where you want. But it works.
The first step to making it work for you, however, is understanding what it really is. A working definition for networking is:
Networking is helping and being helped by others, and nothing more.
Given that definition, the universe of potential networking is very broad. The universe does include prospecting and selling, but it is much bigger than that. It also includes, servicing clients, attending events, volunteering, and even socializing.
In fact, successful networking is something you need to focus on every waking moment. It is not something born out of the 80s, 90s or new millennium… It has been part of life since the human existence.
It has been part of everything in your life. Not just finding jobs or getting clients, more than getting promotions. It is also (but not limited to) finding a golf league, spouse, and babysitter (and not always in that order). Networking is nothing more than humans interacting and somehow working together to survive and prosper.
1. Get Started (or expand your usage to be more effective)
2. Make time to take a little action each day
3. Commit to keeping after it
Admittedly, when it comes to social media there is a lot there and much to master and learn. There is nothing, however, that says you need to climb the learning curve in one day, one month or even one year. Even the most proficient users of social media find that they are continually learning new things.
Besides, no one is judging you on your proficiency using social media. They are only judging you on the value you bring to the network.
Now, when you put it that way, the task seems insurmountable. Here is the reality, however: This translates to only about 20 minutes a day or a couple hours scattered over the course of a week. That does not seem so bad.
It is important to note that there are websites and applications available that will empower you to be more effective interacting and sharing information. While those are beyond the scope of this program, a quick search online and you will find plenty.
Found on your LinkedIn home page, this is an underutilized feature that can be used in one of three general ways.
• Mini Press Release: Imagine having a publicist. Someone who tracked your every move and reported it to the world like some Hollywood star. Well, with LinkedIn, you can. Using the Share An Update feature you can share on your profile the things you are doing. This can enlighten others on your activity (personally or professionally) … Who you know … What you are working on.
• Add Value: As we discussed earlier, adding value is important whether you are networking in a traditional manner or via LinkedIn. People simply want to associate with those that have something to offer – it is purely human nature. Using the Share An Update, you can provide value to your LinkedIn network by offering information, sharing insight or simply making alerts.
• Evoke Discussion: Finally, just like contributing content, you can use the Share An Update feature to gain information quickly or simply engage your network. This activity creates interaction and interaction generally leads to value. So think about engaging your online network by asking a question, soliciting feedback, or creating a forum for discussion.
The third active use of LinkedIn is to add value by contributing content. Think for a moment as to how you might conduct yourself at a traditional networking event. You stand around talking with people. You start discussions and you contribute to discussions that others have started. You answer questions that others ask and you ask questions that you look for others to answer. LinkedIn provides this same opportunity for its users.
If you go into any of the groups you have joined, you will see that there are usually numerous discussion going on. Jump in and add value.
This does NOT mean pitch yourself or product. It means share an opinion or insight. Offer a solution to a problem. Share your experience as it relates to the discussion.
In networking (whether traditional networking or online), adding value in this manner is critical to keeping you on the minds of others. People want to associate with those who add value, as they cannot help knowing, liking and trusting you.
Being Active on LinkedIn is key. From time to time, however, people are reluctant to do anything on social media simply because they feel woefully behind. They say or think, “I have not done anything on LinkedIn and so I am connected to so few people. What is the point of doing anything now?”
Embarking on LinkedIn can seem daunting, especially when you see what others have achieved in terms of connections, activity and traction. It is easy to have that “I will never catch up” feeling.
Do not despair. There is a quick and easy way of becoming networked on LinkedIn. The second active use of LinkedIn is to take advantage of groups.
Again, social media is nothing more than a giant networking event. Imagine that within this immense, continually-running and information rich event, there are rooms off to the side. Within these rooms are people who all have a common bond or interest.
For some, it is the fact that they are all involved in small business or a particular company. For others, it is based on where they live or went to college. And for others it is just a general interest, such as marketing, engineering or accounting.
For the most part, these groups are highly welcoming and continually interested in new members. So find a group or groups that interest you and sign in. And if you cannot find a group that you would like to be part of, LinkedIn allows you to create a group and start to grow it.
Here are a couple neat things about groups.
First, normally on LinkedIn, you can only invite to connect those that you already know somehow, some way. So if you are just getting started and only have a few (if any) connections, you might feel as if there is no way (or no one to turn to) to get additional connections. Once you are admitted to a group you are able to invite to connect people who are within the group. So get into a group and seek out interesting people to connect with.
Second, normally on LinkedIn you are only permitted to communicate with the people you are directly connected to. So, again, if you have few connections, you have few people to communicate with. Once in a group, however, you are able to directly communicate with all the people within that group.
So joining or starting groups and then interacting within them is a powerful active use of social media.
If you went to a networking event, grabbed a chair and sat along the wall, what would you expect to gain from the experience? A: NOTHING!!! To make the event work for you, you need to get out and interact with people. LinkedIn is much the same. You can expect nothing from it, unless you put something into it. You need to make active use of it. There are five basic active uses of LinkedIn. The first is the professional profile.
Just like when you head to the networking event, you need to not only be visible, but you need to put your best foot forward. On LinkedIn, you have the ability to create a profile for yourself. This is your face in the crowd at this online networking event. Be sure to take the time to present yourself well.
Note that this essentially is an electronic resume or brochure for you.
• Don’t be shy; add a picture
• Provide a short statement of not just your title, but the value you offer
• Give a 30-Second Commercial-like overview of what you are about
• List your work experience (listing anything that is reasonably relevant)
• Provide an overview of your education (as this will lend credibility to you as well as being a point of common experience or affiliation with others)
• Seek some recommendations on the work you have done for and with others
• List impressive achievements and other experiences that might not come through in your work history (such as professional designations, awards and recognition).
The great thing about this profile is that there is no limit to how often you can revise it. So feel free to keep it up to date with whatever you are doing, producing or reading. Allow people to know as much as reasonably possible about you.