For those of you who know and follow me, you know how preposterous I think this statement is. However, I can’t tell you how many people have this mind set when it comes to networking.
There are also those who believe that the only real reason to network is to set yourself up to find a new or better job.
About 2 1/2 years ago my former company was sponsoring a business association meeting at it’s office. Because of our sponsorship, we were afforded the opportunity host a meeting, select a speaker and topic which was to be presented. We chose the topic of building a social presence by utilizing LinkedIn and other Social Media. Before we could move forward, I had to get the topic and content approved by an individual in charge at this organization. Initially I was told that he was opposed to the idea because it appeared to be a surefire way for these professionals to better be recruited away from the organizations they were currently a part of.
I explained to him that LinkedIn and other Social Media tools could afford him so much more than he initially thought. I explained, for example that being a part of user groups on LinkedIn would allow him to network with professionals around the globe that shared his skill set or interests. Many of these people would share industry information, discussions, problems, and solutions with him for no other reason than the things they had things in common. After the speaker finished, he let me know that he was excited to explore the opportunities this valuable topic and speaker had introduced to him.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of having a lunch and learn with a former colleague of mine, Greg Haffley who is an Employee Benefits Consultant for RJF Agencies, located here in Minneapolis. The whole premise behind this meeting was to help him enhance his profile on LinkedIn as a way to increase his visibility to his current and future clients. We also spent some time going over Twitter basics and how to find useful industry and client information. Greg and I had not seen each other in years but we ran into each other at a sporting event and decided to get together to catch up and network. You never know who you will run into and how it may affect you and your future.
By the way, I just started my new job 2 weeks ago and I’m networking more now than I did when I was on the hunt. First of all, I updated my LinkedIn groups by removing the ones that are no longer applicable to my new industry. Secondly, I added new groups that are being utilized effectively by my colleagues or are present in the profiles of those in my target candidate pool.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned anything about job search in any of my examples. However, enhancing your network and utilizing the resources around you, can only raise your chances of being recommended or referred when the question “who do you know” comes up in the “I know a company that has a need” conversation.