So, How Do I Re-build My Network?
By Peter Engler, www.englercareergroup.com
In my fifteen years of executive coaching, part of which was as a partner at a San Francisco retained search firm specializing in C-level searches for emerging dot-coms, I am often asked “how do I get my network re-built?”
People are so busy working to expand or keep their job that they have neglected their most valuable career-building tool, their network.
So here are some steps to get your network back up and running:
• Using Linked-In, spend a couple of late evenings or Saturday mornings connecting with everyone who comes to mind with whom you ever worked or studied. Obtain a list of your college and grad school classmates, and significant professors, and do the same thing. Connect with all the people with whom you ever did business, especially people who used to “sell” to you in your prior jobs. Ask them to join your LinkedIn network. Respond to their “agreement message” with a brief personal update and add them to your database (see below).
• Make sure your LinkedIn page includes your picture, bio, and LinkedIn Groups. Your LinkedIn page is a primary networking tool and should be impressive and complete.
• Next, Go to the websites of companies you respect, want to work at or are simply interested in; note the management team and board members with whom you have synergy.
• Contact them via email based on their highest potential for value to you. Reach out to 5-10 folks each week. Make this a weekly activity. Create a brief email format to use; first paragraph- tell them why you want to connect/meet them; second paragraph- why it is in their interest to know/meet you; third paragraph- state you will call at a specific date/time to set a phone or live meeting, and do it!. Include your bio, NOT your resume. Follow-up with “non-responders” with a brief voice-mail containing the same information in 2-3 weeks and re-send the initial email/bio.
• Note the authors of articles of interest to you in the WSJ, Forbes or other publications, and contact them with a brief note offering to be a source in the future (they need smart sources and will appreciate the offer). Reach out to influential industry leaders who might help you over time (don’t be shy).
• Keep track of all contacts through a CRM program (e.g. freecrm.com).
• Get to the point where you are adding/connecting with 5-6 prospective networking contacts weekly. Maintain your database.
• Every 4-6 months, send your “high-potential/high value” contacts (even “non-responders”) something of interest (WSJ article, etc), and a message of a personal nature (“hope that new product is doing well”, “let’s have coffee when you are in town next time”, etc).
• Begin to identify your “core network” of people who are of real interest and value to you and increase the frequency of contacts to keep them aware of you.
• Be sure to adopt a “helping” approach- avoid asking them for favors or specific help unless you are confident of their support. They will “get the joke” as to your intentions with this networking program, appreciate your consistent outreach, and refer you to opportunities in the spirit of networking.
At first, doing this will be irksome and time-consuming. But, you will begin to feel good about it because being proactive and reaching out to people is good for your soul and your career.