Raise your hand if you enjoy networking events. Is it my imagination or are they full of peeps looking for jobs? Or a lot of consultants looking for new clients? Does it feel contrived when you introduce yourself? Forced? Unspontaneous? Or worse, it feels like everyone wants something from you?
I try to take the approach that maybe I can help someone. Am I just that kind of gal? Is that just how I roll? That’s not it. It’s just less awkward than aiming toward some self-serving objective or feeling like a salesperson. And in a way, that’s self-serving. But I prefer to think of it as an investment in good karma.
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, says some of the best career advice he ever received was from a successful CEO. Start looking for an even better job the minute you get a new job. In other words, job seeking isn’t something to do when necessary; it’s a continuing process. To better yourself.
“This makes perfect sense if you do the math,” says Scott, in an article for the WSJ. “Chances are that the best job for you won’t become available at precisely the time you declare yourself ready.” Always be looking for a better deal. Says Adams, “There’s plenty of luck to go around; you just need to keep your hand raised until it’s your turn.” And that brings me to the Top Ten Reasons to Network Before You Need to Network. You can start with International Association Business Communicators (IABC). I did. And I’m glad I did. But here are the reasons.
1. Once you get to know folks, you’ll be ready when those opportunities come along. And they’ll know you well enough to recommend you, not because of networking, but because your antenna is always up
2. Possible partnerships. Last months’ meeting had execs and management from Cisco, HP, Intuit, and Symantec.
3. Education on a plethora of current, relevant topics like the panel discussion on Collaboration Across Functions or Best Practices for Virtual Meetings
4. Brainstorming ideas. Have a current problem at work? Run it by the club members. Suggest it as a topic for a meeting.
5. Commiseration. Hey, this can be important. Get it off your chest.
6. Good food
7. Good company
8. Good wine
9. Ongoing networking opportunities. If you’re looking to further your career, you’ll already have your finger on the pulse. Your hand will be raised. Or who knows what kind of contact you’ll find. Maybe you need the name of a good Pilates instructor or insurance plan.
10. Did I mention good food, company, and wine?
Sure, there’s a chance someone will have an opportunity for you if you’re objective is to network, but if you’ve never met her/him before, what is the likelihood that s/he’ll recommend you based on one meeting? I don’t see myself as a skeptic, nor do my friends, but I don’t think your chances are high if you haven’t spent the time to cultivate meaningful relationships. And one meeting, or random networking events, imho, won’t do the trick. That’s why you should start attending IABC now. Not when you absolutely need to network.
Read more about IABC and the upcoming IABC events including the October 24th power panel: How Fortune 100 Best Places to Work Create a Culture of Innovation and Excellence. I’ll bet you’ll find it worthwhile. And not just for networking. There are at least nine other reasons.