A colleague of mine who is extremely well-connected in the world of broadcast media recently gave me a lesson in what it's like to be "networked."
When you meet someone for the first time here in the Caribbean the first decision that's usually made subconsciously is whether or not this person will become a personal friend.
A skilled networker, however, goes an extra step and asks themselves whether or not that person should be a part of their professional network. I believe that the answer should almost
always be "Yes." So did he.
Once that decision is affirmed, there are a series of next steps to perform that will enable that person to become a part of your network, and hopefully help you to become a part of theirs. I was on the receiving of my colleague's networking skills, and it was interesting to see him go through what I consider to be a standard set of steps that are worth repeating here for anyone who wants to build a professional network.
Step 1 -- Gather their contact information. Make sure to get their personal email address, cell phone number
Step 2 -- Enter the information in a place where it's not only safe, but it can be effectively backed up
Step 3 -- Reach out with social networking offers. Through your Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo accounts, invite them to connect with you and share contacts, plus select personal information
Step 4 -- Point them to your published content. (It doesn't have to be written, and could include photos, music, websites, mashups etc.)
Step 5 -- Interact with them by asking for feedback, sharing notes about your networks, requesting comments on your blog, etc.
Step 6 -- Ask them to subscribe. Request that they join the list of subscribers to your RSS feeds, newsletters or any other frequently published content
Step 7 -- Stay in touch with them as they move around. This takes work, but try to keep the channels of communication open as they change jobs, move homes, change relationships, etc.
It's important to note that this is not about getting more friends.There are lots of people that we work with, and would work with again that we have no interest in becoming friends with. Having them in our network is not the same as having them as friends, and while some of the steps might appear to be similar as to the ones we'd take with friends, the motivation for taking the 7 Steps above is quite different.