I have said time and again that the best way to network is to stop networking…and start building (long-term) relationships. There are no cookie-cutter approaches to networking but there are many bad ones. In this article, I want to focus on what is NOT your networking score.
#1 Number of business cards you have
Everyone has lots of business cards. I have a few thousand of them and I am sure you do too. Half of the people in those business cards, you won’t remember and the other half won’t remember you 🙂
#2 Number of networking meetings you attend
Of course, what you do in those meetings is more important. There are people who complain that networking meetings won’t work just like thousands of poor people who say “money is bad.” These people won’t do anything in a networking meeting. Forget about extending their hand, their posture in the meetings is such that even others won’t extend their hands to them.
#3 Your LinkedIn contact count
I like LinkedIn. There are a dozen ways of using it well and probably a hundred ways of using it badly. Of course, the easy option is to use it badly 🙁
#4 Number of Professional Networking organizations you are a member of
In what capacity you are a member is very important. How much do you contribute to the group?
#5 Size of your alumni network
Again, it really means nothing. It is an entry ticket to something that can be substantial. YOu might get the first meeting or a referral – so there may be something there but we all know that – it’s not everything.
#6 Number of books you have read on this topic
Just like you can’t learn swimming by reading about swimming – books help but you can’t achieve mastery by books alone. Networking is a contact sport. The easiest way is to be there on the field, on the phone and via emails.
#7 Number of companies you have worked
In one of my networking talks someone told me that he had an advantage as he had worked in eight companies in the last twelve years. That in itself won’t be of ANY use. In fact, some people might think the number of companies and the frequency of switching jobs was a bit too much. What did the people think of you in these companies may be a better indicator.
#8 Number of tools that you use to manage relationships
Well, tools do matter because you can’t remember everything. However, you can also use tools very badly. A bad mail merge can be worse than not sending a mail at all.
#9 Number of achievements (or feathers in your cap)
Unless these are really really big achievements, they won’t matter much. There will be more meaning to this if you can bring out the relevance of your achievements on the fly. There is no entitlement without relevance.
#10 Number of contact points with your relationships
This looks like I am contradicting with my earlier point. I said earlier that networking is a contact sport and you need to get out. Yes, but you can’t waste anybody else’s time. Time is something that is at short supply for every powerful person as they have a lot of possibilities. You may have a lot of time on your hand – does not mean that the person that you are meeting has time to spare for you. You don’t provide a high ROII for that meeting and every other interaction, you can forget about another meeting.