We talked to a senior product marketing manager a few weeks ago, who recently lost his job. And the first thing he did, was reach out to his network to let them know he was back on the market. He was fortunate – as he has been working to build his network for 15 years – and he could call on people when he needed help.
If you haven’t started building a network for yourself, or don’t yet see a reason to have one…read on…
A network doesn’t grow in a day.
You’ll notice above we say, “he could call on people when he needed help.” You want to have a network, so you have people to turn to when you need it, but you also need to be there when people need YOUR help. You get out of your network what you put into it.
When you are building a network, you are building relationships. Think of all the people you encounter regularly – through associations, friends from the gym, associates at work (old companies, current employers, people you know at companies where you want to work), people with common interests (think virtual…explore the groups on LinkedIn and Facebook…and join!). For a list of Online Communities, Forums and Social Networking Websites for Entreprenuers that you might find valuable, check out SCORE’s article from their Women’s Success blog.
Reach out to your network regularly – they are your friends, peers, colleagues – see what is new in their lives and where you might be able to lend a hand, serve as a reference, or make an introduction. Help them get what they need and they, in turn, will do the same for you. What goes around comes around – right?
Keep your network fresh
You want to always be thinking about growing your network. You should be exploring LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, OIWC.org, and other social networking sites. While networking online is great, you should also meet people in person. We recommend that you volunteer for an organization you believe in – it’s a great way to expand your circle of influence (consider OIWC, Big City Mountaineers, Betties 360, or the Conservation Alliance).
Use multiple networks – and as the use of social networks continues to grow – be sure to set yourself up to "see and be seen!"
There are people who are content in their situation, and prefer not to take the time to build a network, yet when they need help, they are jumping to get in front of someone. And those people aren’t usually successful. It’s pretty easy to spot those that are just joining the network purely to take – not to give. We recommend that you become part of network before you need anything from anyone. Start now, and continue to build relationships by giving. Share your knowledge, help people who ask for help, and always be ready to connect people in your network. Now that’s a great gift – and given the current economic climate…most reasonably priced!