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Networking for a Living

Not long ago, Networking resource center Keith Ferrazzi offered his ideas on the future of networking. Now Effective Networking Inc.'s Diane Darling shares what she considers the top 10 professional networking trends for 2005. Wo whit:

  • Quality vs. quantity The number of people you know does not matter. It is the quality of your contacts that does. (Shades of David Teten and Scott Allen's recent column!)
  • Slow down No one gets married on their first date. Business relationships take time too!
  • Go low tech In some cases, a quick phone call can be more efficient than many emails. Email is excellent when sending documents or directions — don't overuse it.
  • Diversity The old boy's network is alive and well — but so are many others. In the financial community, a diversified portfolio is preferable. The same is true with your network.
  • Introductions rule! This is the ultimate in flattery when someone takes time out of their day to make the effort to introduce you. This separates name droppers from the genuine networkers.
  • Practice 3rd party networking Take the time to introduce two people so they can benefit from meeting each other. You get to reconnect with someone when you don't need anything — become a "networking node."
  • Zen Make 2005 the year where you include positive people who add value to you and your network while keeping your distance from those who distract and de-energize you.
  • Avoid 911 networking When the economy tanked all of a sudden people discovered "networking." They called people in a panic asking for referrals or job leads. Today, build relationships before you need them.
  • Make random "hello" calls When someone comes up in a conversation or comes to mind, make a random "hello" call. You don't need to have an agenda or reason, simply share that they were in your thoughts and you wanted to connect.
  • Unlearn shyness Research shows that we learn shyness. If shyness is a challenge for you, start a conversation with a stranger in the elevator just before you have to get off. Too often shyness is misinterpreted as indifference and you don't want to send that message — think friendly.