Your network is an important business tool, use it.
One of the key elements for success in business, and to a great extent in life is your network. It’s like your pulse, important and valuable. Your network encompasses the people you work with, you socialize with, and yes the people you talk to via social networks. In fact the social network is one of the best ways of networking on a completely different scale. I have used social networks to meet and hire people, to learn about new media, to study best practices, to find out about restaurants and to just have fun. The important thing to remember with any form of networking is not to be active only when you need it, but to network constantly, sincerely and in many different circles.
No one wants to hear from you only when you need something. That’s not networking, and people will see right through you. You have to build your network before you need it. And when that time comes, it will offer you a great deal of support. People will pop in and out of your life at different times and stages. Treat them all honestly and with respect. Remember that people have long memories and being a good one is important.
Bolstering your network is essential, and even though you think you don’t have the time, make time, it’s worth it. Volunteering, while helping out community, can also be a terrific new channel for business contacts and friendships. These are people you may not necessarily meet in your day-to-day life. I know, I’ve been a volunteer most of my life, and can count just about everyone I’ve volunteered with as part of my network. I touch base with them regularly.
Every contact counts
Sure, for various reasons, we all change jobs; but the contacts from these jobs are still a key element of your network. Unless you have a good reason, don’t cut them off, why would you? It doesn’t have to be formal, I still hang out with people I met at the very beginning of my career; we may not discuss work — in fact we usually discuss anything else — however we keep in touch, we know what’s going on with each other’s family and career, and we’re ready to offer help, contacts or opportunities whenever needed.
Share what you know
Introduce people, share your knowledge, unleash your rolodex, and connect teams and ideas. How many times have you been in a meeting, or at an event when someone has said, I need this resource or this type of person on my team? Step up; use your network to help make the right connections at the right time. You will be remembered for your ideas, not that being remembered matters, and it’s your contribution that’s important. That’s networking.