Often when I talk about strategic networking, people will immediately think of networking events. Their palms will get sweaty as they would rather get a root canal surgery than walk into a room full of strangers.
I now say strategic relationships because that is what we are really creating. Also, relationships are rarely created at networking events. Relationships are created after the event when you sit down and meet one on one. You get to know one another and find common ground.
What strategic relationships should you have?
You should have at least 5% of your network… err.. relationships be connectors. Connectors are people who know a lot of people and enjoy making connections between them.
I am a connector. I know a lot of people and thoroughly enjoy playing matchmaker. I will warn you that you should be careful in over using any one connector. That is why you should have many connectors in your network.
There is a special kind of connectors called recruiters. I wrote in a previous post-called Partner with Recruiters to Manage Your Career that you should carefully cultivate strategic relationships with recruiters. They are very busy people but they are people people. Whenever you engage with them do it with a purpose and state it clearly.
As a baby boomer and having started my career in the 1970’s, no one encouraged me to find mentors.
When I started my career with IBM in 1978, I knew to seek out those in the area that really knew what they were talking about AND were not jerks! There were some really big egos, who would not help anyone but there were those who you could learn from. Seek those people out and cultivate formal mentoring relationships.
I now have multiple mentors each in a different subject area.
Industry or Company Expert
Who in your industry or company do you need to know? Be very selective and make sure they know who you are and what value you bring to the table. You do not need to form a bond with these people but you do need to be on their radar screen.
I have a client who works for a company that is downsizing. My client is working to maintain “their seat” until they can move on. When the last round of layoffs came my client went to a person of importance within the company and asked for advice.
The person of importance could assure my client of nothing but we found out later that the person of importance stepped in to make sure my client had “their seat”.
That relationship was built several years earlier!
This may sound odd but seek out peers and see how you can help them. I wrote in a previous article called Paying It Forward to Establish Your Personal Brand.
What I clearly stated in that post was it was important to help others and expect nothing in return. Be that guy or gal that people know that they can turn to when they need help.
Go look at your network err.. relationships! What role does everyone play in your success?
What strategic relationships are missing? Which types of relationships do you need to cultivate?
Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers