Don't Be a One Time Networker, Network Effectively

By Ian Fernando

Networking is the single most effective way to job hunt and to increase business opportunities. Without a circle of high quality professional acquaintances, you will be severely disadvantaged throughout your career. However, building this circle requires planning and you have to continually work at it. How do you get started? Most importantly, how do you make sure you aren’t turning people off or damaging your reputation, especially on the internet?

If you want to be networking with other bloggers, webmasters, affiliates, etc; you need to act as a resource. Do not be one of those network readers where they ask you to exchange links and that is it. You need to think to yourself and ask in return what can be provided, how long are you willing to network, what are you willing to do?

I was once in those shoes where I would just email webmasters to add me on their main page to up my PR (page rank) and get publicity. That is all I wanted, I didn't want to do anything else with thewebmaster or their website, I wanted the popularity of his web page and funneling the traffic to mine. What a bad experience.

Even readers that send me email about link exchanging, bothers me because I will respond asking if they would like to network with me in the future. Usually no response. Before I even want to network with someone I tend to send them an email or respond to their email if they would like to help me grow while I help them grow. usually none will respond.  I will even provide prizes or provide them with something free, yet all they want to do is ask me to help them promote their product or do a link exchange, very typical for beginners.

I found out that to effectively network with others you need to be able to return a favor later in the future or even help out the fellow webmaster/author. In return you and the webmaster maybe even online friends. This is well said from Scott Bradley:

I mean that when networking...aside from utilizing the other person for their personal network or their services, don't forget to let them know how you can be a resource to them as further create a synergistic bond between you and them.

Your networking will not be productive if you are asking someone (who isn't the right person) to read your work. Or maybe you're listening only partially to someone and then writing them off if they don't seem to have what you want. Productive/Effective networking is about building long-term relationships.

An important part of networking is continuance. You’re building a relationship. There needs to be planned follow-up activity and communication. The best way to accomplish this is by asking for their email address/screen names/ telephone number and summarizing the action steps you plan to take based on your dialog. Include a follow-up phone call or as we approach web 2.0 communicate online as part of your summary.

Why long-term? Because it's highly unlikely that you or your contact have what the other wants at that very moment. The idea is to keep in touch until you do. In the meantime, you want to offer value or be of service so that the other person feels it'll be worthwhile to stay in touch with you.

Ask for permission to stay in touch; don't just add the person to your email list. Decide how you'll stay in touch. Occasional emails? A monthly newsletter? Maybe Over IM (Instant Messaging)? Scott again has a post on this matter as well, networking via IM. He speaks of how you can keep the conversation going and not make it boring at all. Conversation and communication is key to any successor.

One thing to make sure that you do, to keep the conversation flowing is to always always always after you say something ask an open ended question....for instance....say that he says..."I like ferrari's...." Then I would respond with..."You do? I love ferrari's as well. When did you last drive one?"

When you start out networking you need to have a good attitude. Most networkers will think "whats in it for me?"

If you approach a networking with a "what’s in it for me?" attitude, you will be just like all those sharks that have kept you away from networking to begin with. Get into networking looking for opportunities to help others. When you give this way, your "get" is always bigger.

Networking is also about finding out as much as you can about the people with whom you are networking. This serves many purposes. Remembering things about a person the next time you see them makes them feel significant. They will want to do more for you. Secondly, you can begin to connect the dots between their background and your own career objectives. Thirdly, you are building a bridge of trust; your encounter will be viewed as genuine and mutually beneficial, rather than as a manipulative gesture designed just for your gain.

Why do you think there are social communities online that are spurting up everyday, networking with others that know more than you or even does it better is a great feeling. You are being helped while helping others. Myspace and FaceBook are 2 of the biggest and most popular social communities online. Everyone wants to share interests or gather knowledge that their friends of a friend knows.

Networking is about creating relationships which, in turn, creates opportunities. It is about connecting, which builds a network of support that can last a lifetime.

Ian Fernando
Involved in the internet space since 2002 and have been through the ups and downs of this online industry. I am a traveling digital nomad, media buyer, online strategist, and many more online titles.

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