Monday, July 12, 2010

How To Build Your Network & Be The Kind of Person People Remember

Today I’m going to tell our listeners how they can increase their social networks and become the kind of person that other people remember absolutely.

Let’s face it. Our reputations are very important. Networking is very important part of building and spreading our reputation. If we learn to do it well, if we learn to grow our networks, we have a super strong chance of becoming not just a hot commodity, but a SUPER hot commodity!!!

So how do we increase our social networks?

First, what is a social network. No, it’s not just the computer. Nor is it a computer hardware/software thing. A social network is a group of people that share similar interests. They may not be exactly the same interests, but it can be any group of people you belong to that has a similar aim or purpose or connection.

(These days, people who own certain brands are said to belong to a kind of network. The definition of network is evolving.) This is important to know, because since the definition is evolving, we should be evolving our own networks too.

To increase our social networks, we first need to ID our current networks. I usually think of them as being such things as family. School mates. University clubs. But the reality is there are tonnes of places that can be considered potential networking places. What are some potential networking places? Listeners…write in. What are some of your social networks? Do you have any uncanny or different kinds of places you consider a chance to network?

To increase our social networks, we need to ID new and alternative places to meet new people. I know this is scary, but in today’s marketplace, the more people you know, the more you know and the better your chances.

While searching the internet, I found one networking professional who listed over 41 places that can be considered for an opportunity to network. The person listed hobby clubs, airplanes, job fairs, conferences, the gym, job interviews (that’s why it’s sometimes a good idea to write thank you notes…if that’s not done in korea….why not? Creative and unusual is sometimes rewarded). The person listed alumni groups, social clubs like the discussion clubs and Toastmasters I mentioned a few weeks ago, seminars, planes trains and busses. (I know this is taboo…talking to strangers. Many people in America and Canada are afraid too. Why? Will it ever change? Does it need to?)

The important part of increasing your network, if you need to, is getting out there! Fear is your friend. It’s telling you that you are moving in the right direction. (At least in this case. Fear signals opportunity to meet someone who can help you in your career. So listen to it, and act. Don’t run away from the opportunity. Jump in!)

How do you start? Say hello! Say an observation that can be similar to you both. “How’s the weather?” If you’re at the airport, and you’re watching TV…why not comment on the thing your watching. Just an option.

I think it’s important to note, that trying to strike up a conversation with some random person on the street is not normal. If you’re at a crosswalk, and your waiting for the green light. Don’t expect people to jump into conversation. It’s kind of weird. But if you’re both on an airplane to Canada….why not.

I also like the idea of a smoking pit. When I smoked, I used to meet all sorts of people out smoking. No, I’m not promoting you to start smoking. But…if you do, it’s a great way to strike up conversation.

So, next…how do you become the kind of person that people remember? Well, this is quite easy.

But before we go into that, I’m curious how people feel about networking. Some people think getting a job through your network is really unfair. Unfair because some folks have bigger more powerful networks than others. But is it really unfair? Yes nepotism is not good. The favouritism of someone who really isn’t qualified is not fair. …but so what. Welcome to reality. That’s why it’s important to expand your network.

Getting a job through your network is very good for the company. Companies want to make money. They don’t want to lose money. If they hire someone who is unverified, unvouched for, they’re taking an enormous financial risk. You could be a crackpot. However, if they hire someone that has been recommended by a trusted friend, chances are the person being hired has a respectable character.

If you were going to give your money to someone to keep for a week, who would you trust? A person you don’t know or a person who your best friend recommends? Companies think the same. That’s why networks are so important.

So, on to becoming a remarkable networker. How to be great!

  1. Be giving. Don’t be an information mooch. Just because you meet a powerful person, don’t start sucking up. “Remember: Ask not what your network can do for you, but what you can do for your network”. Try to be helpful. Give information before trying to receive.
  2. Have something interesting to say. Read the news. Be ready to comment. Don’t be fighty or really heavily opinionated.
  3. Practice your stories. Have a good story to tell. I cannot underestimate the power of story. This goes too for when you are introducing yourself. “I’m Michael Jay, I’m give people career advice on the radio is more interesting than, I’m Michael Jay, I’m a job coach.” They don’t have to be super stories…just interesting. It takes practice…so be patient.
  4. Career guru Tim Tyrell-Smith advices us to Be consistent: If you are expanding your network or working within an already established network, keep attending. Don’t go once a month and expect to be remembered. Go, go, go again. If you’re dealing with family, write letters. Keep in touch. Don’t drop it after you get what you need either. People will see you as a flake. One time help followed by disappearance is an ugliness that will NOT be forgiven.
  5. Tyrell-Smith also says Be relevant: Know what’s happening now. What’s hip, what’s cool? Do you know much about new technologies? I really recommend getting to know all you can about the new smart phones. HTC, iPhone, Galaxy….these technologies and all they offer are going to be SO HUGE in the coming years. They’re cool and fun. They are great things to talk about. Also, fashion…and of course…movies. (Oh yeah, and business!!!!! Remember you are always doing your research and homework. If you’re at a job fair…know about every company your interested in.
  6. Be social media savvy…this goes without saying. Should be part of your daily network. We’ll talk about this more in a coming show. Facebook etiquette, Twitter etiquette, etc. How to network on these places.
  7. Be here and now! Don’t phase out, don’t diddle your phone. Be with the conversation, with the event. Don't be thinking about TV at home, your girlfriend, your other stuff.
  8. Be grateful for anything you are given during the event. Koreans are definitely good at this. Keep it up!
  9. Tyrell Smith also recommends honesty….don’t simply smooze, tell people what they want to hear. Be genuine. I know it’s tempting to say what you think will work when you really want what someone has. But…a) people can usually smell lying eyes, and b) the result might hurt you in the long run. You might end up hating what you get.
  10. Be committed to the process. Even tho it’s scary…keep going. You may suck networking at first, but keep going. A growing network is a powerful thing!
  11. Finally, be respectful to everyone! You know never know who you are talking to. Or who’ll be a part of your future. That person you think is a fool at first sight, might just be Bill Gates. ….I would have beat Bill Gates up in high school. ….who’s the fool?

That’s all from me. Best to you all!

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