Networking Without the Legwork

Who knows you? It’s a lot of work to get out there and meet people. It’s even more work to convince people to remember you. I know extraordinary professionals who are very well-connected without the help of Facebook, LinkedIn, search engine optimization, press or a single personal photo online. They largely don’t exist on the internet at all. These men and women spent years hitting the pavement to scale their network. As a result, they maintain a rich foundation of personability and respect with many people. That level of connection is difficult to beat.

Armed with tools of the internet era, we have the opportunity to make an impression on the world from our couches. While not as intimate or thorough as in-person meetups, you can at least blip on people’s radars. Social media can hold your name in the periphery of others and help you stay current. Blogs and content publishing can entertain, inspire and connect. These channels are fantastic for providing value to others and making impressions on people you’ve never met. Hustling in the streets could not possibly connect me with some of the people I’ve gotten to know through this blog. Content online can reach unforeseen places and open many doors you could not reach in person. Without thorough research and planning, legwork in the field can waste a lot of time and energy. Better to leverage accessible platforms to make introductions and accelerate connections.

All that said, the internet is only a two-dimensional version of networking. Like a movie poster, it can only tease real relationship building. Introductions online should precede introductions in person to close the feedback loop and formalize interpersonal relationships. Only then can relationships have human stakes. With human stakes in tow, relationships hold richer value not easily replicated by applications or hardware.

Networking takes work. With or without the legwork, connections take a lot of time and energy to build and maintain. Make an impression online, follow through with connections, stay in touch with people from your past and spend time building relationships offline. It’s worth it. Trust me.

Advertisements

Inventory Your Relationships

When I say, ‘Inventory your relationships,’ I don’t mean, ‘Treat your friends like retail products on a stocking shelf.’ I mean, ‘Keep tabs on everyone in your network.’

Like reviewing notes taken in class, study your mobile contacts list, address book, or friends list. Take note of the people you haven’t spoken to in a while. If you find yourself curious about or missing updated information on a contact, you should reach out to him or her and catch up. Send a note, invite for coffee, arrange a phone or video call – whatever you find comfortable. Learn what keeps your friends busy, where their talents lie, what interests they have, and where they want to go next. Catch up, offer help if you can, and take notes to update your rolodex. Promise to stay in touch.

Never rule anyone out; people can change. Some of the shady characters in high school may have sobered up to start multi-million dollar businesses. You never know. You will be surprised what happens when you reach out to old relationships, especially the ones you were never close with before. You might uncover a great opportunity, discover a shared interest, or find romance. All three have happened to me. Partnerships of all kinds form out of rebooting network connections.

Recycling old relationships can be far easier than meeting new people because you already share common ground. I would even argue that keeping your network fresh by staying in touch is equally as important as growing your network, if not more so. As I have said before, it’s not about who you know, but who knows you. It is important that your contacts remember you. Stay fresh in other people’s minds, keep them fresh in yours, and keep your network strong.

It all starts by skimming your phone during downtime. Stay in touch.

Related Articles:

How Blogging Can Help Build Your Net Worth

31 posts, 7,104 words, 311 unique readers, 1,721 article views, 27 states and 11 countries later, I have completed my first objective:  blog every day in the month of March. It has been an extremely fulfilling experience, to say the least. Blogging has helped me:

  • Learn to overcome procrastination on a micro task level.
  • Develop the essential skill of writing.
  • Communicate concepts otherwise lost in my head.
  • Increase social media exposure.
  • Reconnect with old friends.
  • Introduce me to professionals in my industry and others.

It is amazing how much blogging can help you connect. My network is far more dynamic and rich than it was a month ago (and I do not think that has to do with the weather). I cannot say this enough, but a stronger network correlates with your personal net worth. You are more valuable if more people know you well.

I cannot recommend blogging enough.  I will write soon about blogging tactics that have helped me build a daily audience.

I am on a role, have formed the habit, and have no intention of slowing down.  I commit to blogging every single day through the remainder of 2011.  

For every day I fail to blog in 2011, I will donate to charity $1 per total unique reader visiting my site.

And for those fooled, I am NOT moving to Europe. America is ripe with opportunity and I have much left to do!

Your Network is Your Net Worth

They always say:  “It’s about who you know.” 

They are mistaken.  I know Harrison Ford; that’s a pretty good person to know, eh?  I’ve met the man and had rather lovely conversation with him.  Would he recognize me if I met him again?  Probably not.  So what good is that – to know Harrison Ford?  It really doesn’t do you a damn bit of good to “know” someone unless the other person knows you back.

So let us rephrase:  “It’s about who knows you.” 

There, that’s better advice.

The most successful and influential men and women became so because they had thorough relationships with a lot of people.  Networking is essential for most human beings to live successful lives (though, I suppose that could depend on how you define “success”).  Your connections can lend you a helping hand, expand your resources, and challenge you to grow as a person.  But the only way an average person will be willing to do anything for you is if he or she cares about you.  And for someone to care about you, he or she should know you well enough and you need to genuinely care about them back.

You won’t take your bank account with you when you die, so what does your net worth really matter in the end?  I think the number of people who show up to your memorial service is a pretty strong indicator of your “value.”  At the end of the day, your network is your net worth.

So hold off on the business cards and résumés – you’re wasting paper.  Your best résumé is your relationships.