While some of these five great networking resolutions are easier than others, if you take the time and make the effort to turn these actions into habits you’ll find you’ll build your network, raise your profile and discover more opportunities.
1. Commit to a certain number of networking events every month.
For some people it may only be realistic to attend one networking event a month and by this we mean an event where you are likely to meet new people and broaden your network. For others, particularly if you are in sales or in a leadership role, you should take that number up considerably. If you are looking for new opportunities, then meeting new people is one of the best ways to find those opportunities.
“People control resources, opportunities, and information. Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They’re attached to people. If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for a person.” -Reid Hoffman, co-founder LinkedIn
2. Figure out who should be in your Strategic Network and go find them.
In their must-read HBR article, “How Leaders Create and Use Networks”, Herminia Ibarra and Mark Hunter state that of the three categories of networks –Operational, Personal and Strategic–it’s your Strategic Network that is the toughest to develop. Your Strategic Network requires reaching out beyond your present high comfort/high influence Strategic Network. You may have to go into the low comfort/high influence zone, which means reaching out to new networks, often to people more senior. It requires substantial time and a bold mindset to become known as a connector in your Strategic Network. It’s a leadership competency.
This process will become clearer if you read about Strategic Networks in “How Leaders Create and Use Networks”
“Recruiting stakeholders, lining up allies and sympathizers, diagnosing the political landscape, and brokering conversations among unconnected parties are all part of a leader’s job.” – Ibarra and Hunter, “How Leaders Create and Use Networks”, Harvard Business Review
3. Pick a social media channel and become an active participant.
Commit a specific amount of time each week to better understand at least one social network and how to use it more effectively in a work environment. For example, learn about Instagram Business, or how LinkedIn can be a more effective business tool. Here is a link to the basics by Stephanie Ward. Or, get serious and take an online course such as Trevor Turnbull’s 30 Day Sales Machine.
4. Take that public speaking course you’ve been thinking about.
The structure for this resolution is already there, (groups meet on a regular basis) and the bonus is you’ll also be exposed to a new network of people. Could this be the year to really get confident when it comes to public speaking, whether to a large group, a team, or simply speaking up with confidence at a meeting or a networking event? This is a skill that you can only get better at with repetition and that’s why participating in a public speaking course is the way to go.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
5. Put your networking “work” in your calendar and do it weekly.
A network needs care and attention. Often we have spent a huge chunk of time developing relationships, but we get too busy to stay connected. Open your calendar and choose a day and a time slot when you will work on your network and then hit the Repeat Every Week button.
During that weekly block of time do nothing else except reconnect with people in your network.
- Is there anything I can do for them?
- Should I find time to meet in person?
- Can I introduce them to someone in my network?
- Has it been awhile since we touched base and will even an email or call be a good idea?
- Is there someone who has contacted me who I haven’t responded to this week?
Next step? Pick a networking resolution or two, perhaps one we haven’t mentioned. Commit to a certain time frame and then revisit the outcomes. Hopefully you will make these resolutions into habits.
-Written by Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, Judy Thomson and Darcy Rezac, business networking speakers and authors of Work The Pond! Use The Power of Positive Networking to Leap Forward in Work and Life (Penguin/Prentice Hall) Shepa Learning Company
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