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January 26, 2009

Create Your Network Before You Need Them

http://www.smsconnectors.com/sms_connectors.gif This is a paraphrased title from a great blog post by Jeremiah Owyang called "Build Your Network Before You Need Them" and he says it best here:

Those who ignore the party/conversation/network when they are content and decide to drop in when they need the network may not succeed. It’s pretty easy to spot those that are just joining the network purely to take –not to give. Therefore, be part of the party/conversation/network before you need anything from anyone. Start now, and continue to build relationships by giving now: share knowledge, help others, and become a trusted node and connector, not just an outlying ‘dot’ of a comet that swings in every 4 years or so.

When we build a network of connections, if you just join as a taker, you will be exposed as the opportunist you've been flagged to be.  This is not what networking is about.  Why do so many people get this wrong?  No wonder networking is viewed as an intimidating chore by some, those very people who see it as 'asking'  or 'begging' for something first rather than offering genuinely and generously first.

Networking is about letting others know what you can uniquely offer to them and sharing freely, positioning yourself as a resource, a sphere of influence or one who can direct others to those who can provide the information or services they seek.  We are remembered best for those things we give freely without asking for anything in return.  And without fail, the rewards come when we least expect it.

When you think of your next social and/or professional networking opportunity position yourself as a giver.  Think first of what you can bring to the party rather than what you can take home in a doggie bag. The experience may be less intimidating because you are not asking for anything.  This philosophy will not only help you to enjoy those 'networking events' but also make you a better professional and a better human being.

Related Links of Interest:

Do You Have A Social Media Strategy?  The Good, The Bad & The Time-Sucking

Social Media; The Good, The Bad & The Time-Sucking (Part II)

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

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Comments

Wes

Invaluable post, IMO. Proving yourself to be a valuable resource within your network is the quickest and most effective way to establish yourself within the group and enhance your visibility. You want those in your network to think of you when an issue arises that could be of value to you. Providing value to those in your network creates the visibility required for a truly effective network.

Andy Miller

I am guilty! Most of law school -- most of life really! -- I kept my head down and just focused on the task ahead. When circumstances threw me off course I realized I didn't have much of a network to use to help me. Even now, while in no way over the curve ball I have been thrown, I am still not doing all I can to build a solid network. It is a constant learning process.

Now when I teach law students I make sure to stress to them that they need to get involved with bar associations and other groups as a way to get ahead of their peers who are likely not networking.

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