Networking Series Blog 3 –
In a recent survey of my professional contacts, 84% of those surveyed said they would like to network more, yet only 17% of those surveyed proactively diarise time for networking.
There will ALWAYS be more urgent things that come up in your day job, without a doubt. But if we consider where professional networking would sit on the urgent / important time management matrix, consensus seems to be it is important and has many benefits which I summarised in my earlier blog. If you take a more conscious approach to planning time to keep in touch with your existing contacts and build new ones it is much more likely to happen.
My first suggestion is to diarise time for networking. Put a recurring appointment in your calendar now and make a promise to yourself that you will protect it. We all have 168 hours a week, or 8760 hours a year. Decide how much time you want to dedicate to proactively nurturing your relationships and plan it in at a time that works for you.
But we can also think a little more creatively about it. 44% of those surveyed said that time was a barrier to them networking more.
My second suggestion is to stop thinking of networking only as a separate activity you have to carve out time for e.g. finding the time to attend a networking event. Also think of ways to create and build relationships during activities you are doing anyway. Bring the spirit of connecting to whatever you are already doing. Look for win-wins.
Let me explain. If you are attending a professional development session or a webinar, which is an event already in your work calendar, make a conscious decision to engage with others during and after the event. Connect with interesting and relevant people afterwards on LinkedIn, follow up with them, arrange to meet them one to one. If it is a remote activity always turn on your camera.
You are spending the hour on the webinar anyway, so you may as well be an active participant and build connections. It is a warm way to reach out to new contacts if there is someone you would like to get to know.
Don’t wait until you need an external network before building one.