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Don’t be a networking #fail. 4 steps for savvy networking.

Here’s a scenario: you’re talking to an exec from a company you happen to have some intel on; say, a major corporate shift, recent acquisition or new organizational structure. Your options are:

 

1)     Say nothing #fail

2)     Offer your congratulations (if appropriate). The exec will say thanks. End of convo. #fail

3)     Ask a relevant question (i.e. how was the decision made? What was important to senior management during the transition? Why now?). You come across curious and genuine. #win

 

Sure, there are a million reasons you don’t feel like going to that networking event tonight, but let’s face it: you’re here reading a career-minded blog. You care. You know that work is more than a handsome belt holding your daily nine-to-five in place. It’s in your DNA to reach higher and be better. You have goals (and you want to crush them). And you know – despite your love for Grey’s Anatomy and your cozy new flannel pajamas – that meeting new people is critical to building a #standapart career. You’re going to network anyway; so why not #win at it?

 

Here’s our take on networking, with a little help from the web, so you can avoid being a networking #fail:

 

1) Make it a lifestyle

 

He knew how to network. “I remember our first few meetings. He would say, ‘Do you know So-and so?’ and I’d say yes. ‘How well do you know him? I’d really like to meet him.’ I would set up some lunches.”

 

John A. Daly’s, “6 ways to nourish your network,” starts with this crisp portrait of Obama in his early Chicago days. We think this sums up networking, as it should be. Essentially, Daly suggests that professional networking is a lifestyle, not a chore. In fact, let’s go ahead and call it something different all together. Let’s call it: meeting people and being interested about them.

 

Networking is not something you do because you “have to” or because “you should.” A networking #win should feel natural and almost necessary. Going back to Obama, he probably didn’t have much time to think much about “networking” at all. He was too busy meeting people, breaking down doors and, oh yeah, becoming President.

 

2) Measure your success

 

Catherine Kaputa’s book, Breakthrough Branding, is geared toward entrepreneurs but we love this simple illustration of how to know when you’re a networking #win:

 

“When you have the right networking and visibility plan in place, you’ll know it because: you will be known for something, not as a self-promoter; you’ll be doing favors for others in the networking economy; many new networking acquaintances will become friends.”

 

Your take-away: accurately represent yourself, be generous and open up to possibility. Take the time to review the ROI on your networking plan.

 

3) Don’t just spend time. Invest time.

 

This is an infographic, not an article, and it doesn’t deal directly with “networking” in the how-to sense.

The infographic is a visual representation of the findings of 2012 LinkedIn study examining the differences between personal social networks and professional social networks, and how that manifests itself in terms of actual usage. And while, like any infographic or study, there’s not a lot of room for gray area, we think the visual makes a great case for re-thinking how, where and why you network.

 

It’s all summed up like this: “personal networking” is where you spend time and “professional networking” is where you invest time. It’s the difference between bringing a casual mindset versus a purposeful mindset.

 

We’re all about having fun, but we think it’s both a little smart and a little savvy to keep in mind why you’re attending: to meet useful contacts, to seek out opportunities and to maintain a professional brand.

 

4) Power your efforts

 

Finally, because your LinkedIn profile is definitely up-to-date and fully optimized for any would-be visitors (we hope), we especially liked this list of 5 LinkedIn Apps for power networking meant to supercharge you’re already impressive profile. After all, why not network your pants off without wearing pants?

 

We’d add:

  • Slideshare – for sharing presentations
  • Polls – for collecting actionable data from contacts and professionals; and
  • Signal – which allows filter and browse relevant status updates based on targeted searches for keywords, topics or people.

Now for the ultimate win… We’re giving away 2 tickets to our SOLD OUT Smavvy.TV event – a strombo-esque LIVE interview where eight of Vancouver’s top marketers will share their career ‘hindsights.’  To enter, ‘like’ our facebook page or follow us @smartsavvy and leave a comment about networking (a tip, a story or even just a general thumbs up or down). The event is Thursday, Feb 7th @ 6:30pm, Performance Works, Granville Island.