When my friend Ben Casnocha sent me a copy of his new book, The Start-Up of You, I knew that I was going to read something innovative about networking. After all, Ben wrote it with Reid Hoffman, the cofounder and chairman of LinkedIn, and if anything has changed the game of networking in the twenty-first century, it’s LinkedIn.
I was not disappointed. Here, please find 5 networking tips from Ben and Reid that you haven’t heard before. Start using them today, before you actually need them and before everyone else gets in on the secret. And don’t cringe, some of these sound fun, even for us introverts.
Start Your Own Association
Convene influential friends and colleagues with similar interests to share ideas and resources. Offer thought-leadership and high-level conversation so that it’s more than just a networking group. Meet on a regular basis, in a convenient location. This is a great way to keep relationships strong and receive great insights in the process.
Look for Individuals, not Opportunities
Opportunities are attached to people. Identify the people in your network who always seem to have their hands in interesting pots. Try to understand what makes them hubs of opportunity and resolve to meet and develop bonds with more people with these characteristics.
Create an “Intriguing People” Fund
Automatically funnel a certain percentage of your paycheck into a bucket that pays for coffees, lunches, and the occasional plane ticket to meet new people and shore up existing relationships. Pick a person who is a weaker tie but with whom you would like to have a stronger alliance, and for several months, invest time and energy into building the relationship via shared knowledge and offers to help.
Connect the Dots in Your Network
Pair individuals together who have similar interests, and make introductions via e-mail. You may not benefit immediately, and that’s okay. Then, think about a challenge you are dealing with and ask an existing connection for an introduction to someone who could help. Jump-start the process by offering a small gift – such as a relevant article – to the person you want to meet.
Do the Layoff Test
If you got laid off from your job today, who are the ten people you’d e-mail for advice on what to do next? Reach out to them now, when you don’t need anything specifically. Have lunch, coffee, or even a phone call. You never know what gold nuggets might come out of an informal conversation without an urgent agenda.
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