Networking is vital to staying employed, salary growth and job satisfaction. Employees with larger networks perform better. Networking has even been shown to be vital for drug dealers.
You’re likely to find out about your next job through people you know but aren’t very close to so expanding the pool of “weak ties” increases opportunities.
Reconnecting with old friends on Facebook and Linked In is a good first step.
Linked In founder Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha‘s new book “The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career” (which I’m featured in) offers solid tips on expanding your network the right way:
In the next day: Look at your calendar for the past six months and identify the five people you spend the most time with — are you happy with their influence on you?
In the next week: Introduce two people who do not know each other but ought to. Then think about a challenge you face and ask for an introduction to a connection in your network who could help.
Imagine you got laid off from your job today. Who are the 10 people you’d e-mail for advice? Don’t wait — invest in those relationships now.
In the next month: Identify a weaker tie with whom you’d like to build an alliance. Help him by giving him a small gift — forward an article or job posting.
Create an “interesting people fund” to which you automatically funnel a certain percentage of your paycheck. Use it to pay for coffees and the occasional plane ticket to meet new people and shore up existing relationships.
Harvard Business Review has another great technique:
After you identify your key contacts, think about how you first met them. In the center column of the work sheet, write the name of the person who introduced you to your contact (if you met the person yourself, write “me”). This column will reveal the brokers in your network and help you see the networking practices you used to connect with them.
These are the people you already know who are clearly able and willing to help you branch out. They should be the first people you call and where you invest a disproportionate amount of your time and energy.
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