Poll: How do you feel about professional networking?Subscribe
Hi! Just happened to be online when you posted this (wait, that is a lie - I am online ALL THE TIME
Well, pointer number one is to use Work It, Mom! - that was, after all, one of the things we wanted members to get out of this site.
I've always networked a lot for my job and the best thing I've learned is that it is a process, not just a to-do from time to time. Networking is creating and maintaining relationships and it takes work (sometimes, too much work!).
The other good tip that someone once shared with me is that you should network and connect with lots of different people, even if there is no immediate need there or no immediate way this person can be useful or helpful. You never know and the broader your network, the more chances you have of reaching people who help you, your career, or who just become great friends! (This has happened to me at least once.)
I totally agree with Nataly. This can be especially important if you end up looking for money/investors down the road. If you've built relationships and been helpful in connecting other people, you should have an easier time when you have a real need arise.
Okay, so now I know I need to work at it consistently; and I've learned that Work It, Mom! is a good venue for it.
But given that you're talking to a rather shy (for lack of a more accurate term) woman who has never had to network in her life, but who realizes that in order to make the career shift she has in mind, it would be a good idea... Given my profound level of ignorance, your responses are too nebulous. They are words without content. You have graciously accorded me a level of awareness I wholly lack!
HOW does one work at it consistently? How can I use Work It, Mom?
Evidently I need this in baby steps...
I love how straight up you are about this
Ok, since I consider this a skill I've learned, I'll share a few things I did to learn networking and get better at it (I am not shy, but I never really thought I'd be into it).
Online networking - find some blogs written by people in your field/industry and become part of the conversation. Post relevant comments, respond to other comments, ask good questions. It takes time, but you will then become part of this blog's community and can meet people who might be good for your network. What you can do is send an email to a person whose comment you liked or found relevant and ask them if they would have a short bit of time to talk to you about their (job/career/expertise/insert here whatever the purpose of this part of your networking is.) Also, don't hesitate to email the blog author directly and ask for feedback on something/a question about developing your career/writing/whatever fits your life at that time.
The key here is to do this on an ongoing basis and establish these relationships slowly. Another important aspect of networking is giving something back to your contacts. So say you had an email exchange with someone - send them an email later on with a link to a site they might find interesting, or a book, blog, video, article, etc.
Using Work It, Mom![/i] - there is a big community growing here and depending on your networking needs (looking for a job? want to learn about different careers? you name it) there is a lot you can do. 1. Check out some mom's profiles and read about their careers - leave them a post on their profile or send a message with a question you might have. 2. Comment on articles written by other members and/or send them a private message saying you liked the article and here is a follow-on question. 3. Post questions/thoughts/topics on forums or in Q&A and connect with professional moms that way (you are already doing this - but follow up. After a good exchange with someone, send them a message through Work It, Mom! with a follow up question, comment, or resource for them.)
Offline networking[i] - find one event in your area that is relevant for your professional career. Sign up and go. Before you go, try to find at least one person who is also going and "virtually" meet them beforehand - this will make the event easier. At the event, take a deep breath and make a goal for yourself to meet 2 new people. A great place to do this is around the food/drinks area, if there is one. You can start by talking about silly things like the food and then introduce yourself and take the conversation from there. Follow up after the event with people you met - I just did an article on this, check it out. http://www.workitmom.com/article-265
Is this helpful? Do others have other tips? It's a great topic.
Nataly! That was FABULOUS! Specific, clear, lots of great ideas to work on. Exactly what I needed. Thank you so much!
I can do this, too. It's not the sort of thing that comes naturally to me, so it'll be work, even a bit of a drudge at times - but then, work is what I'm after, right?
(My ability to be straight up about this probaby stems from my first career as a teacher. No one learns anything without asking questions, even potentially 'stupid' ones. To be blunt: If you're too concerned about looking stupid to ask a basic question, then you will always be stupid... (Or at least uninformed.))
Here are a couple of in-person tips if you're interested.
1) Never pass up an opportunity: when someone says "what do you do" - tell them. Then tell them why it might be relevant to them. I publish a magazine for women online. When I meet a man and tell them what I do, I pull out a bookmark (I use that instead of a business card so you can "bookmark" my site) and hand it over with a "pass this on to the woman in your life - it will make her feel good about herself. And you'll look so in touch with her needs!" and we laugh a little and they ask a few more questions. He may not be my readership, but he is connected to potential readers, so I make the most of making an impression on him.
2) Practice makes perfect: I used to work with someone who was an expert network marketer (multi-level-marketing). He used to tell me that he talked about his business at least six times per day. Everyone knew what he did and he was enthusiastic about it all the time. Do the people you talk to daily know what you do? Talk to them about it. People LOVE to help so when you say "I run a business doing x", they almost immediately rack their brains to find you a referral.
3) Follow up!: When you get someone's business card, contact them in 24 to 48 hours. Email is fine. Just say "It was nice to meet you. I have your card handy and I'll be sure to let people know who you are. Please keep me in mind when you meet (fill in the criteria of who is a good referral for you). Hope to see you at (networking event)."
Can you tell me who would be your client? That way I can make a good referral for you.
I would answer that question like this:
You can tell every woman you know between the ages of 18 and 98 about As We Are. Our writing celebrates and inspires women and is a slice of "I feel good" in your day. All they need is a computer. http://www.aswearemagazine.com Tell them to check for a few minutes each day - there is new content Monday to Friday.
Trudi, thank you. I'm putting this all in a file, for future and ongoing reference. I haven't been talking about my career yet, because I don't have it yet - but upon consideration, there's certainly no reason I can't be talking about my career aspirations. I obviously need to be less modest/self-deprecating. I'm a good writer. Why not say so? I have done a fair bit of writing over the past few years, some paid, most not, a couple of website edits, a bit of medical editing - why not say so? (About the writing, not about the free...)
This is very useful. I appreciate it.
Should I start with you? Hey, Trudi, I'm a writer. I write mostly about children and parenting, but I have experience with a broader range of subject matter. Perhaps you could keep me in mind when you have need of another voice for your magazine.
How was that?