It might seem like an obvious statement to say that networking remains just as important as you advance in your career as it was when you started it. However, the strategies that you used as an entry-level employee simply won’t work for you now. What executive has time to attend every networking event, and how many LinkedIn connections can you keep up with, anyway?
While your industry cohorts are trying to capture your attention for even a few minutes, you’re likely doing the same thing. Unfortunately, the people you want to connect with don’t have time to read your emails and you can’t get your phone calls past their gatekeeper. With so many demands on your time and theirs at this level, it’s essential that you redefine how you network rather than abandon it altogether.
Learn a Lesson from Inbound Marketing
Inbound networking is a new concept that takes its cue from inbound marketing, a term popularized a decade ago by the founders of HubSpot. In the realm of inbound marketing, it’s more valuable to create content such as blog posts and podcasts that draw people to your business than to continually pay for pay-to-click and other advertising campaigns to deliver them to you instead.
Professional networking faces the same challenge. There’s no way to stand out in a pile of unread emails or as a LinkedIn or Facebook connection when the person has thousands already. Your time is valuable, and you need to do more than this to ensure that your intended connection notices you.
What Sets You Apart?
To get noticed, you need to be different from everyone else. Start by determining what you and your desired connection have in common, such as a college major or a favorite sport that you share. From there, step it up a notch to find something about yourself that makes the person take notice no matter how busy her or she is. For example, perhaps you’re a marketing whiz who turned a company destined for bankruptcy around to one that now posts multi-million dollar profits. Your prospect needs to know this.
People are drawn to authenticity, which means that you need to demonstrate you have genuine experience that interests your prospect. Believe it or not, being an expert in your field is only a starting point. Going outside the parameters of your profession, such as highlighting your expertise with French cooking, may do more to capture your prospect’s attention than your career accomplishments. The key is to drop these bits of knowledge about yourself into conversation whenever possible.
If your network isn’t growing as fast as you would like, consider building your own. Host events that would interest your prospects regularly, such as featuring business speakers in their areas of interest or expertise. Ask your guests to invite other professional influencers and you could see your network explode.
At Business Partner Alliance, we provide targeted coaching, consulting and business advisory services to help small and medium sized business owners achieve new heights. We put our passion and experience to work to help business people achieve their goals. Let’s meet for coffee to see how we can network together.