Are you considering removing yourself from the office, or possibly traveling for an extended period of time to some great destinations?
If you answered yes to either of the questions above, and if you are not independently wealthy, then you had better learn how to network with other people effectively.
If you’re leaving a structured employment situation, how are you going to support yourself whilst on your round the world adventure?
What if you turn up in Hong Kong and need to work?
Meeting other like-minded people and collaborating with them can have untold, and unforeseen, benefits.
As you begin your new journey, remember that networking is a great way to:
- promote projects
- find freelance work
- seek input and travel advice
- barter for technical assistance
- work with others for mutual gain
- assist other people
One of my golden rules of networking is to “bring more to the table” when interacting with others.
Additionally, networking does not always have to be about trying to attain something, it can also be a great way to assist people who might need your help.
I used to consider myself a rather competent networker — especially considering that I have been doing it from one tropical island or another for the past twelve years.
Truly, you should try networking from a seven by three mile island in the Caribbean and trying to get people to take you seriously!
Recently, there have been quite a few quality posts in the blogoshpere on how to network successfully. So, as opposed to telling you what to do and how to do it, I am going to instruct you in WHAT NOT TO DO and
I am going to use myself as a case study.
You see, I have an idea for an eBook that I would like to create. It’s not just an ebook but it will be a freely downloadable manual which will be distributed to humanitarian organizations as a “how to” book to teach them how they can utilize blogging and social media to help raise funds and awareness.
The ebook seems like a very Zen project and one that I am quite excited to pursue. However, because I have never attempted a project like this I decided to email some people seeking constructive input, and thus began my lesson in ineffective networking.
What did I do wrong?
While searching for assistance last week I emailed a highly respected, and highly ranked (on Technorati) blogger for advice.
This person has always been amazingly kind to me in terms of providing information and has even given me some guidance for my small business.
Of course, I thought, this is a great cause that I am going to work on, certainly I can get some assistance.
Without a second thought, I jotted an email and hit send just waiting for the response to come back, which would help to give me some initial direction.
Strangely enough, a day went by and I heard nothing, then another, and another. Certainly, something was wrong because this person always emails back quickly.
Upon reflection, I realized that I had broken some unwritten networking rules and I should have known better. In fact, I do know better, but I was excited about the project and I made some assumptions (not wise).
Networking faux pas
Many people who are interested in freelancing, or leaving the corporate world, have quickly become fans of NorthxEast.
So, I want you to learn from my recent mistakes because when networking is done correctly I have found that people really are willing to help.
Without getting into specifics, here is what I did wrong:
1. The email was too long – The email I sent was well written but it was probably a little too long. I should have started with short pleasantries and then gotten straight to the matter at hand.
2. I hit the send button too quickly – This person has corresponded with me in the past so I thought I thought I could email seeking some input. In hindsight maybe I should have drafted a blog post and sent the person the link. If they were interested in assisting that would have given them the opportunity to contact me.
3. I did not clearly define my goals for the interaction – In my mind the project makes perfect sense and has tremendous value. But, of course, I am intimately familiar with what I am trying to achieve and I have actively worked in humanitarian development for the past ten years. Next time I will more clearly define what my goals are as bullet points and express mutual benefits.
4. I didn’t offer anything in return – Recently, I have taken to offering my weekly interview guests the opportunity to have me write a post on a humanitarian organization or cause. Effectively, giving them something in return for the time that they take to answer my questions. Nevertheless, with this recent email I didn’t offer anything of substance in return. Next time the interaction will not just be about me “taking.”
5. I didn’t know when to call in a middleman or mediator – This probably would have been a good time to call in a favor or two and have someone closer to this person forward along my request for input and assistance. If you are trying to network with someone there is nothing wrong with having someone else make an introduction for you.
If you need to connect with someone for assistance, for a collaborative idea, or even just to say hello, please learn from my mistakes.
Next time I will pay more attention to detail and I will not be so eager. Instead, I will stick by my golden rule and continue to bring more to the table when networking
Have you had any networking mishaps? How did you improve upon your mistakes?