It’s all about who you know. Or, to be more grammatically correct: It’s all about whom you know.
Either way, this adage is right on the money for job seekers and business owners. Landing your next job or next contract is all about being in the right places and knowing the right people.
Back to Basics: Networking
Getting back to basics with networking means understanding most new business contracts still come from customer referrals. If you’re a job seeker, you can send out hundreds of resumes but they won’t yield a new opportunity as quickly as reaching out to your social networks.
So, what's networking all about – and where should you start?
Relationship mapping is as simple and complex as understanding connections between people. It doesn’t matter if your goal is to sell business products or to sell yourself into a new job. Understanding we’re all connected to each other is a very powerful idea. If you need help understanding relationship mapping, check out six degrees of Kevin Bacon.
Now sit down with a pen, paper and your computer. Go to your favorite social media site. Or, if you have a Rolodex or computerized database, spend time pouring through it. Start with your primary business connections. For a job seeker this could include colleagues at companies where you want to work someday. For a business this could include suppliers linked to companies you want to do business with. Now, use this handy graph to map out your primary connections and who they might know. LinkedIn is a very useful tool for this exercise; you can publicly view these connections.
Relationship mapping is very effective, but very few people take time to do it. What would happen if you reached out to your LinkedIn colleagues and asked for an introduction to someone they know?
Networking for Business
One thing to remember is that all business relationships atrophy. This means you should take time to reach out to your contacts regularly. When was the last time you spoke with a former client to see how their new vendor is working out? You never know when there might be room for improvement; perhaps you can win back their business. You should also reach out to current clients, while they’re happy, and ask them for referrals. Even the process of letting them know referrals are a big part of your business, will plant a seed that might yield a new crop of business for your company someday.
Networking for Career Seekers
Networking events have a reputation for shallow self-promotion; consider those smarmy elevator speeches that are still suggested as a best practice. But networking events, done well, are really about establishing new business relationships that are respectful and mutually beneficial between you and another executive. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.
Artisan Talent is a great resource for business and career networking: we know everyone. One call could start you on the path toward successful networking. What are you waiting for?