Look at your network now compared to last year. Have you dramatically expanded the number of people you can call or email and be reasonably sure you'll get a response from them?
And that doesn't mean from loading up on contacts inside your company using the "People You May Know" feature on LinkedIn. A network gains value through diversity - not from having 75% of your connections riding on the same economic train as you!
If your active network looks the same as it did last year, ACT NOW when ideally you don't need your network's benefits. Here are 12 potential ways to add not only numbers, but diversity to your network:
- Join and actively participate in professional associations
- Regularly attend (and even create) networking events and follow up on connections
- Take on leadership roles in church, school, or alumni organizations
- Deliberately try to network with other parents at kids' activities
- Write articles for publications within your industry
- Speak publicly on topics of expertise for you (and if you're reluctant to speak, join Toastmasters and get over your apprehensions)
- Use Twitter to build a global network of people involved in topics of interest (Twitter Lists or WeFollow are great places to start)
- Run for public office
- Find and join groups focused on hobbies you enjoy
- Share your expertise via social media - start a blog, comment on other blogs, record podcasts or video blogs
- Start a second job where you interact more with the public
- Strike up conversations with people you meet standing in line
And IMPORTANTLY, have business cards with you and introduce yourself to new people with your first and last names. I can't believe how many people go to networking events and don't have cards and/or introduce themselves by mumbling their first names.
Not all of these methods make sense for everyone. For my networking strategy, numbers 1, 2, 6, 7, and 10 have all been very effective at meeting great new people both online and in IRL (in real life), especially by starting to attend and even organize tweet-ups.
There are certainly several of these that will work for you, so pick and get started adding diversity to your network! - Mike Brown