While I am sure the correct answer is “about” 90% (90% is a little too precise), there is no denying the fact that showing up is important.
If you have an interview and you don’t show up, you can’t possibly get the job. If you expect to get paid, you have to show up for work. And, the list goes on.
If you would like to consider yourself a master networker, showing up is also important. The groups that you belong to such as your local chapter of The FENG, your local Chamber of Commerce, your religious organization, these are all places where you should show up on a regular basis. If you don’t show up, the people who are hoping you will be there so they can share an important introduction or idea won’t be able to do it.
Bruce Lynn and I belong to our local chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth (www.ACG.org). Although other obligations do on rare occasions cause us to miss a meeting, we try not to. ACG has proved to be a valuable source of business for our firm, The FECG, LLC (www.TheFECG.com). And, in a sense, even if that were not the case, truth be told we enjoy seeing our many friends. After all, we have been going to these meetings for many years and lots of people who attend these meetings know who we are. As they say, out of sight, out of mind.
I know all of you have heard me say from time to time that the 3 most important things you can do to further your career are: networking, networking and more networking. Just as Eskimos can identify and have words for different kinds of snow, so it is true that there is more than one kind of networking.
I have identified 3 kinds of networking. The first kind of networking is saying hello to old friends. (By the way, old friends don’t have to be chronologically old, although many of mine are.) Whether in person, by phone or email, it is vitally important to always be saying hello to your old friends. By keeping in touch, they will know you love them and are not just trying to track them down when you need them. Besides, it’s fun to keep in touch. (That’s one of the dirty secrets of networking.)
The second kind of networking is making new friends. Hanging out with your old friends is a lot of fun, as noted above, but don’t forget that it is just as important to make new friends constantly. In The FENG we have our new member directory which should get you in the habit. But, just about any approach will do. No one ever has enough friends. Make it a habit in your life to try to make at least one new friend every week. (You don’t have to settle for just one, but 50-100 each week may be over doing it.)
The third kind of networking is probably the most important. This element of being a master networker is introducing people you know to other people you know. In common parlance this is called being a connector. Just as you expect others to “absorb” the essence of who you are, so you too are obligated to absorb the essence of your networking contacts, and when the light goes off that you have a match, take the time to make an introduction.
I’m not sure if all of you appreciate it, but our local chapter chairs in The FENG make a huge effort on your behalf to create a friendly environment where you can just “show up.” Everyone will know your name at these meetings if you are smart enough to register early and wear your official FENG name badge. If you only show up at these meetings when you are looking for a job, I would suggest you are missing out big time.
One of our members who was a regular when he was out of work said to me once that if he stayed home, he could be assured nothing would happen. If he came to a chapter meeting there was the possibility that SOMETHING could happen. He typically gave more than he got, but unless YOU feel you are giving more than you get, you probably aren’t giving enough.
As the unemployment rate continues to drop, don’t dismiss the value of our local chapter meetings to your career. There are going to be jobs, even for those over 40. If you are working, try to duck out early a few times a year and go. If you aren’t working, I don’t know what your excuse might be. Perhaps you HAVE practiced your 90-second announcement so much that you don’t need any more performances, but I tend to doubt it. You can never present your credentials enough.
Besides, if you don’t show up, I’m 90% sure you won’t be having as much fun as all the folks who do.