Have you ever had someone call you up to network and actually been able to help them in some way? I have to ask. How did it make you feel? My guess is that you felt pretty good inside.
Perhaps you were only able to point out a typo on their resume, or perhaps you were only able to give them a kick in the you know what or a pat on the back. Still, it can’t help but make you feel good to know you helped in some way.
Why is it then when the shoe is on the other foot that some members of the world’s best networking group (that’s The FENG), hesitate to call other members, let alone strangers (that’s what we call non-members) who are actually just friends we haven’t met yet? How can you justify denying them this good feeling you have experienced? Are you selfish or just mean spirited?
For those of you who fear the 400 pound phone, not to worry. Even if you drop it on your foot, it likely won’t break any bones. All you have to do to get over this phobia is to make a few phone calls to “friendly audiences” and practice a bit. Before you know it, you will be calling total strangers and not hesitating at all.
How to begin? That is always perceptually the hardest question, but in actual fact the easiest to answer. The place to begin is to call a few new members each week. New members wouldn’t dare be rude to a member of long standing such as yourself. Here you are, the oracle of all wisdom, taking time out of your busy schedule to call one of our newly minted members, how could they not be honored? The odds of them hanging up on you are close to zero. (I have actually NEVER heard of this happening.)
And, can you help them in some way? Of course! First you might want to point out that the job leads are in the file attached to our email distribution. (Yes, there are a few folks who don’t pick up on this, and you can save them from a great deal of embarrassment.) You can also suggest that they read the entire newsletter from soup to nuts so they don’t miss anything important, LIKE MY EDITORIAL. You can also suggest they actually use our Member Directory Search feature on our website and perhaps even show them how to use it. Encourage them to go out there and download an old newsletter or two as well, just to see what’s in it. See, that wasn’t so bad. Heck, I bet you will be very good at this networking thing, so let’s go to the next level.
Let’s have YOU use our Member Directory Search feature and look for networking contacts. My recommended approach when getting started is firms where you have worked. The truth is that the extended period of time you spent at these institutions caused you to meet most of the rascals of any reputation, good or bad. These are the “warm fuzzies” you can mention when contacting members you have never met. Of course, those names that ring a bell should go first. After all, we are trying to ease you into this. But, even members who worked at your former employers before or after you will know these infamous individuals.
An important tool when contacting anyone other than a new member is to write first. Send a short cover note along with your resume so you won’t have to spend so much time describing your background and/or what kind of help you need. And, don’t write to more folks initially than you can follow up with in the days after you do your mailing. 10 emails the first day is sufficient. You can increase the volume as you get more comfortable with the process. You just don’t want to disappoint anyone you have promised to call. And, you need to continue improving your letter so it sets the right tone and gets the results you want.
After a while, networking will be as easy to you as falling off a log, without the bump on the head caused by hitting a rock.
It actually is very easy to network. All you have to do is give it a try.