After active networking for about 2 years, I got to understand that networking is very similar to cultivating a garden. When you grow a garden, you don’t expect the harvest next day, right?
A garden needs planting, watering and nurturing so you can enjoy fruits and veggies in a couple of months and even years.
If you are really serious about building a ‘fruitful’ network, you need to focus on cultivating meaningful relationships with people. Yes, giving and helping others first. Yes, getting to know them deeper than “how are you doing” chatting. Yes, taking time to listen to people with genuine interest. Yes, introducing them to your network.
While cultivating meaningful relationships, you will earn respect, trust and appreciation because the energy you put out into the world always comes back to you.
In my networking endeavors, I focus on 5 activities:
1. Events: I go out regularly to meet new people and re-connect with my existing network. I attend big events such as Leadership Lessons from Influential Women or Best Companies to Work For in BC Gala, but personally prefer small gatherings where attendees can engage in intimate conversations with other business owners, like FWE member forums or my mastermind group.
In addition to events, I regularly meet people one-on-one for a cup of coffee or on Skype to develop a deeper connection.
2. Twitter: I began using Twitter officially and openly in November 2011. Cady Jordan was one of the first Twitter acquaintances with whom I had a real conversation on Twitter. She ignited me to be more open on social media.
My intention on Twitter is to be open, engaging and relevant. I don’t post updates that have no added value in my opinion (something like eating a cookie in the morning.) I think about my audience, “What will be of benefit to know about me and what I have to share?”
Also Twitter is a tool for me to cultivate relationships with people I don’t see often. I check regularly what they are up to and how I can be of service to them.
3. LinkedIn: I keep my profile up-to-date and learn about people’s career from their profiles. Also participate in groups conversations and comment on my network updates.
My intention for LinkedIn is to contribute to conversations that will further or start relationships with other professionals.
4. SEO: Do you research what comes up when you google your name? When my website didn’t come up, I made some tweaks to the coding. When irrelevant pages appear with my name, I discard it or contact the site owner with a request to remove it.
Also writing articles for other websites was a great way to improve my online footprint.
5. Giving: Whether online or offline, giving is the center of my networking activities. Even if it is as small as a retweet or a comment on their update.