From a networking perspective, you’ll know that you have arrived when:
- You start getting referred to the same people over and over again. It is important that you find a way to meet them, get to know them and determine what information you have to share with one another;
- You become known as “well networked” and others start to admire your ability to access the broader community;
- You begin to receive networking requests from others… they want to tap into your networking genius.
Allow me to explain…
When I first started networking in earnest, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t sure who to talk with, what to say, where to go, what I wanted from them, etc. I did know, in my gut, that networking eventually would be of great personal benefit. I remember that I wanted to contact as many people as possible to discover what I could discover – I suppose it was the 30-something’s approach to finding herself (wonder why I didn’t think of backpacking across Europe instead?)!
If you have been following my blog at all, you know that eventually, I fell into a networking groove. On my best weeks, I met with 10-15 or more people, understood how each connection connected to other connectors. And, after several months, something miraculous occurred: I started hearing the same names over and over again.
Oh, you ought to meet Denise.
It wasn’t once or twice that I heard that I ought to meet the very same Denise; it was about a dozen times. I finally met her by simply walking into her office and saying hello.
Hmmm… given what you have mentioned to me, Pam could really point you in the right direction.
After hearing Pam’s name at least three times, I realized that she really might have some key information to share with me, and I with her.
Oh, you really need to get to know Pat – he shares your philosophy for a great corporate culture.
Again, Pat’s name came up at least five times before I actually got to him.
Those moments and others helped me to know that I had arrived. I had discovered my circle. The community of people with whom my professional aspirations, personal values and key interests aligned. I realized that it was that group that could be of the most benefit to me and, likewise, who I could most help.
Walt Disney was right… it really is a small world after all. Once you start hearing names repeated, you know that you have found your people! It is a small community – wherever you are in the world.
Do you know and recognize your community? You must endeavor to find them.
During my initial nine month stint focused solely on networking, others started to notice what I was up to. People made comments like, “I met someone who knows you yesterday…” almost invariably, it was “someone” who I had met while networking. It happened over and over again. It was awesome! I loved getting comments, and compliments, like “you know everyone,” and, more importantly, “everyone knows you!” Of course, neither is totally accurate, but it is directionally correct within my circle, within my community.
To this day, I still get tickled when people remark, “Wow! You are really well networked.” It means that I have access to an important asset, an important group of people who I can tap into for the right reasons at any time.
Would you call yourself “well networked?” What would it take for you to get there? How many contacts or touch points would you need to move in this direction? Ask yourself.
Can We Talk?
Before I started consulting – during the period of time when networking was my full time gig – at an early morning PTO meeting at my son’s school, one mother remarked, “why do you always come dressed to the nines looking like you are ready to go to work? No offense, but you seem like you belong in a board room more than you belong in this school conference room!” No offense taken. When I explained what I was up to, she asked if she could buy me a cup of Coffee to learn more about networking!
While that is just a silly little example to make the point, it wasn’t just her. In fact, many people started coming to me, asking if I could make time for them, in much the same way that I had been (and continue to) ask people to meet with me. Quid pro quo. I always said, “Yes!” As I have mentioned in my posts before, I say, “Yes,” and go in ready to be a networker, ready to add value, ready to cultivate a relationship. Before long, you, too, will be the one who is asked for meetings in addition to asking for meetings yourself.
I ask you to hold yourself accountable, to say, “Yes!” and to go in ready to add value, ready to build a relationship or two.
Have you arrived? What will you do to ensure that you not only arrive, but that you continue to get invited to the party, continue to have a seat at the table. This is a lifelong effort – once you arrive, you can only stay there by continuously embracing the principles of master networking.
Tomorrow, we’ll dive into a topic that I have purposely avoided thus far in my blog… that of the dreaded NETWORKING EVENT! ‘Tis the season, so let’s prepare ourselves to take advantage of formal networking opportunities, holiday parties and more.