Last night I facilitated my Firm’s Social Networking Workshop. There were some people who participate in this list who attended. It was a great evening.
I’ve written a lot about networking over the years. I was taught that the process begins with doing favours, and finding ways to stay top-of-mind (in a positive way). It is the “give to get” philosophy. The process of connecting with people is so much about enjoying the experience of getting to know something about a whole lot of people. Many people I’ve spoken with who I would consider to be “good” at networking, particularly for job search, say that it is often about being in the right place at the right time.
At the workshop, we strategized about things those in the HR profession can do to build an effective network. A few expressed concern that they were challenged in networking because they were new to the country and didn’t know many people. If you let networking become a natural part of your life, then it won’t take long to find people who can and will help you, and it is probably not the people who you might expect. It does take time however. In truth, I’ve met important business connections on airplanes, during the Blackout, at the leash-free, at the place where I get my oil changed, at a fundraiser, and through Freecycle. If you follow the LinkedIn philosophy, it is about understanding how to reach people who may be degrees from you. One of the largest projects I’ve worked on recently came about because I happened to strike up a conversation with a friend’s neighbour at a Christmas party two years ago. It was never meant to be a business discussion, and I hope to continue to connect with her outside this project for many years to come. So often, if it is your state of mind, making real and lasting connections just happens. These connections rarely start with any business in mind.
I myself am not comfortable standing in a room speaking to strangers, and if I am uncomfortable, I have to imagine how painful a process it is for those who are more shy, or don’t know the landscape very well. I am wondering if you can help out those who struggle with networking. What are your ideas for good door openers? What have been successful venues for meeting people who are willing to make connections. Please feel free to post these in the comments section at http://bonnieolist.blogspot.com.