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I love when I get questions from my readers. This is a reply I received to one of my recent newsletters:
"I always plan to network more but the opportunities do not present themselves very often and when they do I am usually busy "on the job" or with family activities. Can you have a theme on prioritizing networking, making it a priority and how to get more involved in networking activities? I am terrible at networking and usually only do it when I am looking for a new job..."
This email really resonated with me. I'm sure he's not the only one that feels this way. And it just so happens that my new book directly addresses this issue.
In my book, The Connector's Advantage, one of the things I talk a lot about is investing in making connections in the right way - that is the way that's right for you, which may not be consistent with the pressure you are putting on yourself.
We are all busy, yet we feel like we need to spend a LOT of time networking. It doesn't need to be a daily thing. It could be weekly. When Friday at 4:00 rolls around, what are we really getting done anyway? Or during that food coma after we eat lunch and we are just staring at our computer - we might as well hop online and send a few personal messages through the virtual outlet of our choice. Or even pick up the phone!
Maybe weekly still feels like a lot of work - our efforts could even by monthly. The important thing is that you are moving at a comfortable pace and forming a habit of networking.
When I first received my reader's email, here are the tips that I responded with:
- Don’t think of networking separate from the things you do all the time. You are always networking whether on the playground waiting for pickup or at a local event. Be curious, build relationship with those you are already around – you never know where it may lead.
- Think about staying in mind with light touches. A quick note of congratulations or a comment on their post. You are not asking them for anything but your name stays familiar.
- Take 10 minutes a week. You don’t have to think of it as something time-consuming. Instead, think about how to nurture 1 – 5 relationships through a light touch in less than 10 minutes a week.
Networking can look like a lot of different things. Maybe for you, it's sending a personalized note to 5 people on LinkedIn, planning a live lunch once a week, or getting in touch with 5 people once a month to reconnect. What works for me isn't necessarily going to work for you - you have to find your own rhythm. And once you do, networking won’t feel like work.
How are you going to start networking?
You never know where connections will blossom. Some of my best friends are also people who were originally clients.
If there's anything you have on your mind, let me know! I may turn it into a blog post.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michelle Tillis Lederman, (CSP, PCC, SCC, MBA) is an expert on workplace communications and relationships. Named by Forbes as one of the Top 25 Networking Experts, and one of the Top 30 Communications Professionals in the World by Global Gurus. Michelle is a speaker, trainer, executive coach, and author of four books including The Connector's Advantage and The 11 Laws of Likability. She was invited to the Marshall Goldsmith 100 Coaches Group, “100 Coaches Community brings together the world’s premier leadership thinkers” to seek ways to advance positive impact and give back to society.
An executive coach, people expert, and CEO of Executive Essentials, Michelle inspires organizations and individuals to build real relationships and get real results. Having worked with fortune 500, non-profit, university and government clients she’s identified the common struggle… it’s people challenges. When asked by her young son what she does, she simply replied, “I help people work better together.” This purpose has driven her work with clients large and small including JPMorgan, J&J, Deutsche Bank, Michigan State University, MetLife, Sony, Ernst & Young, the Department of Environmental Protection, and Madison Square Garden.
She received her BS from Lehigh University, her MBA from Columbia Business School, holds the PCC designation from the International Coaching Federation, and is certified in Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching method. Executive Essentials is a certified Women Business Enterprise.