Regardless of whether you are employed or unemployed networking skills are extremely important. Most of us do it poorly. On person who does it correctly is Keith Ferrazzi of FerrazziGreenlight. He is an über-networker. He provides a constant stream of tips and networking advice on his Greenlight Blog.
In one of his recent newsletters Keith provided some great advice on what to do for the next six months to improve your networking relationships. I am going to try to relate these for those of you who are planning on attending the SHRM 2012 conference in Atlanta, Georgia on June 23 through June 27.
His first piece of advice is to look at your calendar and see who you have the most interaction with and see if you are happy with the advice and interaction they are providing you. I would translate this to SHRM 2012 as this. Take a look at who you read the most on blogs or magazine articles. Who are your top five? Make a list and then make an effort to try to connect with them personally at the conference. There will be many of we bloggers at the conference so this may be the best opportunity you have to connect with them. You may even want to contact them ahead of time and let them know you are interested in meeting them.
His second piece of advice is to imagine that you will lose your job tomorrow. Not a far stretch given today’s circumstances. Who are the ten people you would email to solicit their advice on what to do next? Do it NOW. Don’t wait until you need to do it. If they are going to be at SHRM 2012 then make sure you connect with them.
His third piece of advice is pick one person with whom you would really like to strengthen your relationship. Keith says “Commit to trying to help him or her proactively by giving small gifts. These can be anything from sending the person an interesting article to helping them prepare for a presentation to forward a job posting. Invest serious time and energy in the relationship over several months.” The point of this is that to get value out of a relationship you have to give value. Make sure you connect with the person at the conference, but be prepared to offer some value when you do so! Don’t go empty-handed.
His last piece of advice was an interesting one. He said “Create an “interesting people fund” to which you automatically funnel a certain percentage of your paycheck. Use it to pay for coffees, lunches, and the occasional plane ticket to meet new people and shore up existing relationships.” I had never really considered that one. I do it, but I have not really thought about it in those terms.
Think about these tips and make a plan for improving and expanding your network contacts. Then once you have done that, and this is critical, KEEP THEM UP. DON’T IGNORE THOSE CONTACTS.
Hope some of you will track me down. See you there.