Grow your network to hundreds of contacts in three easy steps
Networking is a powerful tool that can catapult even ordinary careers to extraordinary heights. From entry level employees to business owners to politicians, individuals at all levels have leveraged networking to achieve their professional aspirations.
Despite its proven effectiveness, many fail to exploit "people power", mostly due to self-imposed, often myopic, misconceptions. I have come across myths ranging from "I am not a very people person" to "I don't know a lot of people".
In this article, I will show you how you can grow your network in three easy steps.
1. Snowball your network
Not too long ago, an insurance agent called me. He started the conversation as follows: "Hi Nimish, XYZ asked me to get in touch with you because she thought you would be interested in speaking with me." From his tone, I could tell -- as most of us can -- that he was a telemarketer and my first instinct was to run, but since he had mentioned my colleague's name, I allowed him to continue.
At the end of the conversation, he asked me if I knew someone who could benefit from a similar discussion (I would prefer to call it a monologue). Even though I wasn't interested in his services, I knew some people who were actively looking for insurance products. Serendipity? I don't know.
The agent had utilized what I prefer to call "the snowball technique". Many of us may never need to sell insurance but the principle of snowballing can be applied to our networking efforts as well.
If we make a conscious effort to ask everyone in our contact list to introduce us to a few of their contacts -- we must be prepared to reciprocate if necessary -- and if we were to ask each of those contacts to introduce us to a few more (and repeat the same process over and over), within a few months our network could easily grow to hundreds if not thousands of contacts. How you use them is entirely up to you.
2. Network with the well-networked
Connecting with the well-connected is a very powerful strategy. Industry leaders, authors, experts, speakers -- these individuals have a following of their own and connecting with just a few of these could enable you to tap into a pool of thousands of potential networking contacts.
3. Read and write
Of course, I know you can read and write. I am referring to professional literature. When you read professional literature or write for trade journals, academic publications, magazines, blogs, and other publishing avenues, you will get solid exposure to a large pool of readers. Writing is not just a PR exercise. Every reader is a potential networking contact.
If you are a voracious reader, consider writing short e-mails or letters appreciating the work of authors who caught your attention. If done consistently, these short exchanges could be precursors to some very interesting networking opportunities.