Networking for a Living - Making it work for you


If redundancy is on your mind or you’re looking to go it alone voluntarily, or maybe you already have, but it’s not been as successful as you had planned, then networking could be the missing ingredient.

Social Networking has a number of different aspects to it – it’s not all about drinks and canapés and standing around chatting to people!

The key to successful business/social networking is effective use of time and the key to that is using the Internet and social networking sites to do the first part for you.  With a LinkedIn profile you can quickly and easily describe your knowledge, skills and experience and create a valuable on-line CV packed with the key words that people would search if they wanted your skills.  Furthermore, you’re able to connect with past and current colleagues and with others who work in your area(s) of interest.  I know people who now get most of their business through LinkedIn!  Even better, you can give and receive testimonials for your work and display them next to the relevant role.

Other social networking sites like Naymz and Spock are also excellent for raising your profile if you make clever use of key words that describe your expertise – make them the words you want people you plug into a search engine and find you at the top!

Furthermore, you may be able to find specialist sites that are targeted at your specific discipline and there are literally hundreds to choose from.  I helped start a site aimed at the life-sciences and health sector, called Spidera, part-funded by the EU.

However, probably the single-most effective way of articulating your expertise and getting your message across in the way you want it to be read and found is to start a blog like this, where you can describe your expertise in social networking, networking for a living, or whatever it may be.

Let’s say (for the sake of argument) that you’re in Banking and you’ve just been made redundant, or you’re thinking about going it alone - You’re a specialist in a particular field and the number of roles in this area are limited...... M&A, for instance.  If you started a blog describing the tricks and tips that you’ve learned – not giving away secrets, just tasters.  You are likely, over time, to achieve a high Google ranking for key phrases, attract the attention not just of banks but, quite possibly, organisations considering a merger or an acquisition and through the weeks/months/years you will create a name and a reputation for yourself which will simply grow with time.

As a technical consultant of any kind, your ability to explain what you do - your “dark art” - in plain words will set you apart from the plethora of others who do the same, or similar, and make you stand out from the crowd.  It also means that others are able to refer or recommend you and so on........... it doesn’t take much to achieve a reputation in your marketplace as being better than your competition if your competition aren’t doing the same thing!

The key to success is to connect widely through sites like LinkedIn, Plaxo and many, many others in order to build relationships based on Like, Trust and Respect with a diverse audience of people who may be able to help you and, in turn, you may be able to help them – RETURN ON RELATIONSHIPS – RoR is like the old ROI, but the investment is in relationships with people and the return you get can be HUGE!

In conjunction with networking online, you also need to create a highly credible blog and whilst doing that, you also need to get out there and network with people who can assist you and recommend you and introduce you to others........ be that professional networking gatherings through a trade body or NRG lunches or whatever works for you in terms of time, location and audience.

In addition, I would also recommend ensuring you have a defined strategy that pulls all of the components I’ve mentioned above together in a structured and measurable way and you’ll find loads of great advice on Andy Lopata’s site about how to do this.