Networking is a skill that needs to be embedded into our daily activities. Whether it is building relationships within or outside of our companies, it is critical that we develop relationships with people that we can leverage as our expert bench of knowledge.
This network can take many forms based upon both your professional and personal goals. For example, my professional network right now includes CEO’s of cloud based software companies, venture capital firms that invest in software companies and sales, marketing and development leaders around the world. This network helps me to excel in my current role, while learning what it will take for me to take the next step in my career and keep a bench of talented people who I can put into key roles at any point in time.
Taking a page from my career coach, I would recommend that you write down the top 10 people who are aligned to your goals and that you would like to develop a relationship with in a given year. Then put together a plan to meet up with them during your daily activities.
Some points to keep in mind when networking:
1. Write down your goals in developing a relationship with the person – also consider what benefit that you will bring to this person
2. Use social media sites to get connected to these individuals – don’t be afraid to call someone because they might have a bigger title then you, the higher up they are in an organization the more they understand the importance of networking
3. Try to network around breakfast, lunch or dinner – there is something about the nature of eating with another person that makes you both have a good memorable experience
4. Work these meetings into your daily schedule, so for example, during a business trip you should fill up your available time with networking meetings
5. Stay connected with these people even after you achieved your goals, you never know when you might be able to either return the favor or learn some more from these individuals.
There are so many great people to meet in this world that taking the time to build a plan and aligning these people to your goals will insure your success.