Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late: The Network Imperative

the networking imperativeIt’s too late to start networking when you need:

  • A job
  • A promotion or new assignment
  • Funding
  • An introduction
  • Business or a contract
  • Some helpful information

In fact, it is too late to start networking when you need anything.

What we all need is a strong network. It doesn’t have to be a huge one. A network is made up of relationships, not just contacts. The number of your LinkedIn contacts or people in your address book are not relationships –  they are contacts.

All too often, women tell me that they’ve been too busy too develop a network, either internally or externally, but they now need and wish they had one. The time to build and nurture your network is right now and always – no matter who you are and no matter how busy you are. Having a strong network is not a “nice to have” or a “someday when I have time” goal. It is a “must-have” priority.

Like the well-accepted advice to “exercise or engage in physical activity for at least 30 mins a day,”
I recommend you spend at least one hour a week building and nurturing your network. Here’s the shortcut version:

  1. Identify where the leaders and influencers in your field connect – go there. 

    This includes online sites, forums, groups as well as physical places, organizations and conferences.

  2. When you get there, be interesting and informative, not needy.

    Be prepared to contribute to the conversation. Support and amplify other people’s work. Notice and compliment people on their accomplishments.

  3. Start by identifying four people you want to develop a relationship with. Be sure you identify both men and women. Select someone who is:

    • Senior who is an expert or a recognized leader. You may not get to meet them in person, but find ways to connect online or at conferences.
    • In your field who has broad connections and a robust network
    • Outside your field who is forward thinking about trends and opportunities
    • More junior, less experienced but energetic and knowledgeable about things you’d like to know more about
  4. Keep in touch without being a burden.

    This is the key to developing a relationship. You can’t just reach out when you need something. Reach out regularly in ways that don’t take too much of the person’s time. Find opportunities to do something for them. Thank them.

Invest at least one hour a week – every week – engaged in these networking activities. These actions and people will lead to you to more people and ways to expand your network. Pursue the opportunities that strengthen your network and further your goals. Remember, you are busy!

If you’d like to connect with me, you can email me here.