Most years I skip over making new year’s resolutions, mainly because I know I won’t stick to them (fun fact, most people give up by February). Anyways, this year was a little different. I didn’t vow to work out more, eat better or save more money, although I should, I vowed to strengthen my professional network. Most people assume you network to find a new job and while a valid assumption, networking goes well beyond finding a new job.
Networking is about learning and meeting new people and it comes in all different forms. It comes in more traditional forms, like networking events and specific industry events like conferences, but then it also comes in the form of informal breakfasts, coffees or lunches. My favorite is definitely the latter.
Asking someone for coffee can be tough – especially when you feel like they think you might be trying to “get something” out of them. I’ve found that if you’re very transparent about why you want to meet, you’re likely to get a “yes”. Whether you’re interested in advice, admire what a person has done in their career, go to the meeting prepared, bring questions you thought of in advance that will help you win that person over. That’s a great way of establishing a relationship.
I recently had coffee with a reporter and I positioned the meeting by letting her know I was new to the industry and wondered if she had time for me to pick her brain on what she’s working on, trends she’s seeing in the industry and so on. I had a few questions and voila! We had a great conversation and I have a new person in my network.
Networking isn’t always about creating new contacts, but it can be about continuing to foster your existing network too. In January, I also circled back to my existing network to continue towards my goal. I had a great lunch with a former colleague and a nice chat with an on-air personality I worked with in my past life. Neither meeting produced an immediate action, but they were genuine conversations that I enjoyed that allowed me to catch up and stay connected.
I set a reasonable goal of one networking sessions per month – which after January closed, I decided to rethink that. January brought me three networking opportunities, so I figured three could be the new goal. This week I’m headed to traditional industry conference, where my goal is to meet two people that can be added to my network, whether they could be potential mentors, prospective clients or industry leaders.
How are ways you’ve grown and kept connected to your network?
Senior Account Manager
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