Networking is one of the buzz words swirling around the business world, career development, job searching, personal development, and even among vocational religious professionals. Experts know how valuable it is, people will concur that it’s valuable, but few people actually know how to do it. As I’m in active networking mode during my West Coast stay this week, getting to hang out with Rudy, Elijah, Dave, Spencer, and others who aren’t onliners, yet] has been a thrill, wish Wifi were ubiquitous, and you could have tuned in to a color commentary or play-by-play on the power dialogues.. so here’s some thoughts and almost practical tips about networking:
1. While conferences, seminars, events, workshops provide an opportunity for networking, networking doesn’t actually happen 99% of the time, b/c that time is used to put a name to a face, and conversations skim the surface with small talk. Networking requires intentional + regular follow-up and conversations, both in-person and virtual (IM, phone, email, msg boards, chat rooms, IP telephony, etc.) The ol’ mediated “Say hello for me” doesn’t quite count.
2. Networking with people requires actual people who are connectors and/or facilitators to run the network, to keep it running, to keep it going. Technology can support the networking activity, but someone has to be traffic facilitator, coordinate some conversations + meetups. Just as a computer network [LAN] requires hubs and routers, so does human networks.
3. Extending and growing a network involves meeting new people and connecting with them. Through conversations, you broaden your horizons, learn new perspectives, meet great people, open up possibilities for synergy + collaboration + mutuality + combustible ideas.
4. Maintaining a personal “network” of a few close personal friends, a la friendster, doesn’t really tap into the power. That’s just bunkering down into a clique, comfort zone, a gang, a clan; not there’s anything wrong with that.
5. On a good day, I can get 5 meetups in 1 metro area, including travel time and brief interims to decompress or transition, if needed: breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon tea at Starbucks, dinner, evening meetup. This is my trade secret, yours for the taking [attribution would be nice, but not required] for being my faithful blog reader.
6. If you know of a job or a company that would value my contribution in meeting up with people for simply the pure love of networking [and NOT making a sales pitch, or using people; just connecting with them, and building relationships], reply back to me with an intro, b/c that’d be a dream job for me!!
This blog entry courtesy of JetBlue, who gets it, offering free Wifi hotzone here in the (otherwise boring) lounge @ Long Beach.. JetBlue, you make me happier every time