O.K., I’ll confess. Networking is, for me, about as appealing as flossing.
But just as I know you need to floss to protect your gums and keep your teeth, I know that staying connected is the key to preventing career gingivitis.
Just in case you’re like me, and need encouragement to follow through on your networking due diligence, looking at the process in a different light could help.
It’s not practical or politic to go through your whole song and dance each time you connect with a colleague, not matter how much you’ve polished your elevator speech.
Try building your reputation by dishing out interesting tidbits of information instead. That way you won’t take up too much of your colleague’s time, and you can target your communications more effectively.
Focus on one specific piece of information you want to share. Over time, these news bites about Brand You will build up to present a comprehensive image of your skills, experience and achievements.
In addition, if you approach networking as a way to keep colleagues up to date about your accomplishments and interests it should feel a little less cringey.
For example, each time you complete a project, or start working in a new area, you can use that as a news peg for your next contact, as in “Hi Joe, thought I’d let you know that I just completed a white paper which shows how our industry can reduce overhead by simplifying the ordering process. Since I know this interests you, send me the word and I’ll gladly send you the document.”
If your network includes people who work in slightly different fields, you can use your regular contacts to tell them about what’s important in your line of work, and how you are staying on top of what matters.
And, since keeping in touch with your colleagues gets information flowing in all directions, you’ll grow in your career by learning about what your colleagues are up to.
But perhaps what’s most important about networking is how it helps to build trust and confidence between you and those who may someday be your employers and co-workers. When you keep in touch with people regularly, they develop a sense of who you are, what you’re about and how much they can count on you.
It shows you’re a stand-up person, the sort of person they might want to work with.
And definitely the sort of person who flosses regularly.
by Danielle Dresden