We all seem to be doing a lot of networking these days. Whether you're looking for a new opportunity yourself, or helping a friend, former coworker, relative, etc. find their next calling, you simply can't help but get involved.
I attended a wonderful Boston Women Communicator's breakfast meeting this morning, where the topic du jour was—of course!—networking. Marilyn Edelson, President of Ontrack Coaching, had some outstanding tips that I thought were well worth sharing.
So, without further ado, here are the principles of relationship networking, according to Marilyn:
1. Set your intentions
2. Be present
3. Suspend judgment
4. Follow up
5. Take care of others in your network
Happily, these principles aren't much different than what I posted myself a few weeks back in Part One of this primer (good to know that an expert and I are on the same page!). But Marilyn also offered these tips:
1. Believe in abundance
2. Be generous
3. Know your strengths
4. Be authentic
5. Include supporters, shakers, and mentors in your network
These are quite succinct points, and very well stated, but I'd like to expand upon them.
To Marilyn's first two points: I truly believe you can't do enough networking; Marilyn actually shared with us that she keeps a database of some of her key contacts' interests, so that she can keep in touch appropriately. Brilliant idea! And in this economy, we can all afford to be generous: helping someone make a great connection may only take a few moments, but the good karma that will come your way (and perhaps a return favor at some point down the road!) will last for a very, very long time.
Knowing your strengths ensures that you aren't wasting your time—or anyone else's. If you don't have expertise in online advertising, don't go down that path. If you DO, by all means, share the wealth. Sharing best practices is a wonderful benefit that comes from having a network made up of savvy, seasoned professionals.
Marilyn's fourth point, be authentic, is so incredibly important. Be yourself! Yes, everyone has an "off" day now and again, but being your true self is the only way to be your best self. No one wants to connect with a charming Dr. Jekyll, only to find out that he is in reality a slimy Mr. Hyde.
Marilyn's last point is a great pointer for building your network effectively. If the only people you meet and mingle with have similar backgrounds to your own, the world would be a very boring place. Our differences go a long way to define us! In addition to surrounding yourself with peers, connect with people you admire, people who admire you, and people who are just a little removed from your core "circle," and you'll be well on your way to building a strong, dynamic network.
Good luck—and if you have other tips for building a strong network, please do share.