As a professional speaker, I know, know of, have met and am aware of thousands of people who have crossed my path during the past 30 plus years. Most of them wouldn't remember meeting me. If you asked them, "Do you know Tim Connor?" I am sure most of them would look at you with a blank stare and shake their head no. I know who they are, they are in my contact database, but it isn't who you know that can help you in your career or life, but who knows you - what you do, what you offer, what you know, how you can contribute, etc. The purpose of networking, from my perspective, is not to accumulate hundreds of useless contacts, but in some way become more memorable in a positive way to those people who you feel could in some way contribute to your future success.
I have observed hundreds of people flitting from one side of a meeting room to another frantically collecting business cards in the hope that lightning will strike and they will meet someone who can skyrocket their career. I agree that exposure to as many people as possible is necessary to find those few select people who have an interest in helping you in some way, but I also have learned that it isn't a numbers game, but a game of quality. One advocate who is well placed and interested in you and/or your success can do wonders for your future.
The key to networking success is traveling in circles where people who can help you congregate, not in a mindless and endless search for names. Here are a few quick ways for you to network more effectively:
- Join or start a mastermind group.
- Start a mentor relationship.
- Get involved in groups or activities in which important contacts congregate.
- Develop an advocate list to use. (Courtesy of one of the members of my mastermind group.)
- Go out of your way to cultivate a relationship with people who are now where you want to be in the future.
- Develop the habit of taking one successful person per week or month to lunch or breakfast.