I’m a fan of networking. I love getting to know folks, and learning what it is they are doing, both professionally and personally. I love to be that person in the room or at the table who – when a problem arises – can boldly state: I know someone who I think can help.
So, of course, I was naturally curious when I saw the LinkedIn post from the New Yorker’s Nicholas Thompson yesterday, Network With Your Peers, Not Your Superiors. By and large the advice he provides is good I think. I do believe that it is important to one’s career to network. And I do believe, it is also good to get to know your peers on a deeper level – yes, actually build a relationship with them.
For me, the moment that the power of networking clicked was in reading Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone. He suggests more than a few hard and fast rules, but these are some the stuck out for me.
One, don’t keep score.
Two, you must constantly ping (like sonar on a submarine) your network so as to build and maintain your relationship.
I mention this second observation for a reason. As much as I’d like to think I am a good networker, I feel like working to maintain relationships is an area I need to spend some time to improve. I don’t do nearly enough to build and keep relationships on solid ground as I should.
I thought about how I could score myself in that area, showcasing the areas of opportunity to improve. And of course, I turned to LinkedIn for this exercise – specifically, to my contacts page. And my suspicion was correct: I have not had a conversation, let alone sent a note or email, to over 75% of my contacts in over 6 months, or more in some cases.
How’s that for relationship building.
On the flip side, I also know that it is largely due to my personal relationship with several of my contacts that I was able to spearhead the launch a small business degree program at my college.
What does it all mean?
Simply this: networking is only beneficial if you put the time and energy into it. And like blogging, or anything else for that matter, it takes time and discipline to build and maintain.
And it seems to me like the time to reach out, and reconnect is long overdue.