“I’ll just text them.”
by Kathy Buckworth
The key word in this sentence is the word “just”. Texting is a terrific way for your tween to ask you for a ride from a friend’s house, for a teen to chat with their BFF’s, or for parents to arrange who is getting the milk on the way home from work. It’s become the most basic form of communication, as evidenced by its short form spelling and grammar.
But as a professional networking tool…it just isn’t one. And as our back and forth methods of communication get more and more behind various screens, versus in front of a face, we’ve seen that it has become easier and easier to be somewhat anonymous. That anonymity has spawned trolls on the internet but the other effect it has had is that is has made professionals somewhat invisible to each other. And you want to be remembered if you are building your business network.
The best networking will always take place face to face. Tom Peters, who co-wrote the bestselling business bible “In Search of Excellence” in 1982, a full ten years before the first text message was sent, nailed down some rules that are still relevant today. These include never wasting a lunch, and writing thank you notes on a Friday. Sound old fashioned? Not necessarily.
The business and networking lunch is alive and well today; you just might not be doing it, or have a big corporate expense account available at your disposal. You don’t need to. Arranging a coffee date can be just as effective in getting in front of your colleagues, peers, and clients.
Writing a thank you note? While #FF’s on Twitter are arguably the modern day equivalent, taking the time to write a note will make you stand out. An email can suffice, but a hand written note is even more effective.
There has been an interesting transition when it comes to receiving phone calls and voice messages. People today generally don’t like getting phone calls or seeing that voice message light flashing. It seems more intrusive, and time sensitive. For new networking opportunities in particular, use email to set up a face to face. Above all, don’t ask for a meeting over a social media channel. A Linked In message is private, so using that medium is appropriate. And, for the record, following someone back on Twitter is not “networking”, nor are they now necessarily a part of your network.
If you’re new to an industry or city, you’ll want to find industry events and conferences where you can start a network. Prepare your “elevator speech” and take along more business cards than you need. Not everyone wants to receive contact information over their phone.
Forming your own smaller networking group doesn’t have to be hard, but it can be extremely advantageous. Find individuals with similar work styles and ambitions that you feel can complement your skills. Share contacts, experience and knowledge via regular face to face meetings, supplemented with email support and sharing. You don’t have to be doing exactly the same job in the same industry; in fact it can be more worthwhile to seek those in other areas for a better-rounded group. Set an agenda for each meeting and treat it with professional respect.
Networking doesn’t just happen. Those with large and vibrant networks have worked hard to establish them and, just as importantly, maintain them. Sending a quick “just checking in” email is a great way to maintain an already strong, long standing network contact.
The “Old Boys’ Club” concept has long been maligned insofar as it suggests an exclusionary, elite club. Which it was. But what it did to well was to allow the members of this club to support each other’s business success. Throw out the words “old” and “boys” and replace it with your own set of demographics. Starting a network when you’re just starting out is ideal, but it’s never too late to work on your network.
Follow Kathy on Twitter @KathyBuckworth. Check out her #MondayMorningMentor tweet every Monday at 8:00am ET.
Photo by CL Buchanan Photography
Kathy Buckworth is an award winning writer, public speaker, and television personality. She is the author of five books, including “The BlackBerry Diaries: Adventures in Modern Motherhood” and her latest, “Shut Up and Eat:Tales of Chicken, Children & Chardonnay”. She is a feature writer for Sympatico.ca in their parenting, travel, and auto sections, and is also a columnist for ParentsCanada, Womens Post, Ottawa Families, Dabble Magazine, and GoodLife. She also regularly contributes to national magazines such as Canadian Families, Disney Playhouse, and Oh Baby. Her monthly “Funny Mummy” column appears on 25+ websites across North America. She is a parenting correspondent for CTVNewsChannel, and appears on shows such as CityLine and The Marilyn Denis Show.
Kathy is the only two time winner of the Professional Writers Association of Canada Award for Excellence in Humour, and is the 2010 recipient of the Mississauga Arts Award for Established Literary Arts. She is the Managing Director of 4WordsComm.com and has over 18 years of corporate marketing experience, with CIBC, Royal Bank, Telus and Coca Cola Foods. She has acted as corporate/media spokesperson/social media consultant for blue chip companies such as Procter & Gamble, Research In Motion, Presidents Choice Financial and LeapFrog Toys. Visit www.kathybuckworth.com or follow along at www.twitter.com/kathybuckworth
Kathy Buckworth Award winning author, I Am So The Boss Of You, Shut Up & Eat, The BlackBerryDiaries Feature writer Sympatico.ca, (Travel, Parenting, Auto) Columnist for ParentsCanada, Dabble, GoodLife, DisneyJunior Blogger for Huffington Post Canada, Funny Mummy Syndicated Column CTV NewsChannel, CityLine Contributor.