I had a coffee with a young professional this week. We were chewing the fat about how to build a sustainable and organic network, pretty much from scratch, while being the ‘new boy’ in town with no industry legacy to speak of.
I thought back to being in the same position at his age, of having stilted discussions at irrelevant networking events, trying to impress people that I really wasn’t warming to, mainly being sold to.
We covered a lot of ground over a couple of lattes (at the lovely Cafe Baristas in Hook, thanks for asking), which got me thinking about my experiences, which are by no means the outline of the next best-selling business book. Summarised, and in no clever order, it went a little something like this:
- You’re always a work in progress; be prepared to grow and challenge yourself.
- Doing something is better than doing nothing. Experiment. Meet people. Go to events to see what you like and who you like. Be picky. Experiment. Write social posts to build your reputation and find your voice along the way. Experiment. Most importantly, make loads of mistakes… and experiment. But don’t beat yourself up along the way if you fuck up; you’ll evolve.
- Invest big in your soft skills. You’re always selling you. The rest follows.
- Make notes and hone brand ‘you’. This process will help you define who you are and where to position yourself.
- If you can define niches, building a reputation is much easier. Try becoming a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
- Start a database and treat your contacts like gold.
- Become a go-to person. Refer, refer and refer some more. Use your contacts to grow your connections.
Finally, a throwaway comment (about fish once again) made to me many years ago during a marketing chat. It always comes to mind if I am in a room with the same people doing the same thing: Fish where the fish are.
At the risk of repeating myself, I wrote this insight a couple of years ago. A bit longer, slightly different, but all about the same sort of thing, building a network.