I’ve written several posts about elements of networking in the past, but never gotten straight at networking strategy at a higher level. I’ll split this into 2 posts this week due to length…
First, a few simple diagnostic questions:
How often do you get called with a new job opportunity or sought out for advice?
If it’s rare, you have a network problem.
Do you have a lot of others you can call for advice or to help with a critical introduction?
If no, you have a network problem.
Networking is among the most written about topics in business. My quick search of Amazon.com yielded 17,500 results to “business networking”. These included best sellers like Never Eat Alone and Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty as well as random tactical cut and paste guides like How to Succeed in Business Using LinkedIn: Making Connections and Capturing Opportunities on the World’s #1 Business Networking Site (I’m not making this one up…it’s a whole book!)
If it’s so well covered, why do we struggle with it? Just go read hundreds of pages about it and do it. I think it’s a mix of lacking both urgency and confidence. Many fail to fully appreciate the importance of developing a strong network. They know intellectually that it matters, but other priorities intrude. As for confidence, I get a lot of “why would they want to talk to me?” type responses from students and professionals.
I’ll briefly lay out some thoughts on how to approach both a short term networking strategy (for example a job search) as well as how to develop healthy networking habits for the long term.