There is truth in the saying "It's who you know." Networking should be a part of your career plans. But what does networking really mean? Going to your monthly PRSA meetings and handing out cards?Not so much.
According to Keith Ferrazzi, the author of "Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time," networking is about connecting. He writes, "I learned that 'real' networking was about finding ways to make 'other' people more successful."
Whoa! I'm a newbie in the field. Shouldn't the people I meet help ME become more successful? Successful networking goes both ways. Let's role play.
You've decided that to meet people, you're going to volunteer at the local Boys and Girls Club. One night, you meet *Fred (names have been changed to protect privacy) and he introduces himself and asks you what you do (always a safe question when making small talk). You introduce yourself and tell him you work at the Gurus Group and then reciprocate the question. Fred tells you that he works at AnimalsUnite, a nonprofit that lobbies for animal rights. He mentions during a friendly game of basketball, that they are having difficulties raising money, he's hired several consultants with no success and if he doesn't make financial goals by the end of the year, he'll be out of a job.
You think, "Sucks to be You." and gracefully exit out of the game by faking a sprained ankle to get away.
Replay. What you should do is say to Fred, "You know, Fred, my father's best friend, Al Allen, specializes in raising money for nonprofits online. He has had great success. Our agency hired him on behalf of one of our nonprofits and they are having their best year ever. Tomorrow, I'll forward you his contact information if you give me your email address. Another cool thing about him is that he doesn't charge for his service unless a company's financial goal is met or succeeded."
You follow through the next day, Fred hires Al Allen and success follows. His board considers him a hero. He keeps in touch with you and asks you what you need help with in your career.
This is an example of successful networking. You may not have a way to help someone you meet immediately, but if you stay connected with that person, over time, you'll be able to help them become more successful (and ultimately you will become more successful).
Ready to jump right in the networking game? The holiday season is ripe for meeting people. To learn how to take advantage of all the networking opportunities that will be coming your way, read an article from Ferrazzi called, "Seven Tips for Networking Through the Holidays"
Good luck and don't forget to share your best networking tips and successes here...