Best of CoBiz: Eight tips for speedy networking

David Mead wrote an excellent article with great points on how to build a good, organic network. I agree with him that his way is best – if you have years to spend building relationships. It is certainly the way I’ve built my network, and how I would hope that my clients maintain theirs after finding employment.

Unfortunately, if you’re unemployed, and your goal in networking is to become rapidly re-employed, this great method is just plain too slow. And, let’s face it – the immediate goal of networking if you’re unemployed and haven’t built up a network IS to get re-employed. So here are eight ways to rapidly build a network if you’ve found yourself unemployed and in need of one in a real hurry, with all due respect to David, and a tip of the hat.

1). Buy a network. What does this mean? There are two ways to buy a network. The first is through an accomplished Transition Coach who has built a network for the purpose of helping people get employed. At the same time, this Coach can help you navigate the network and introduce you to others in the network. The second way is to buy membership in a networking group such as CXO or the like. These methods plug you into a ready-made group of individuals who should be willing to assist you in your job search.

2). Attend effective networking events. The big “y’all come” events aren’t terribly helpful, but you’re probably going to have to go to some. One you cannot miss is the 6th Annual Investment & Finance Cross Networking Event on Wednesday, September 21st, hosted by Howard Potter. This event has all of the “power groups” in Denver in attendance. Register for this here.

Few events have the power of this one, however. (Another is Andrew Hudson’s Jobsgobble event in November each year.) If you go to these events, go with friends and scope out a way to work the room. Divide and conquer! But spend most of your networking time at smaller venues where you can get to know people.

3). Concentrate on three to five networking coffees per day. Yes. That’s right. Three to five coffees PER DAY. It takes meeting this many people a day to build up a network rapidly. Be sure to give as well as get, but don’t be afraid to ask. Yes, you’ll look like you’re looking for a job and look a bit needy. The reason for this is that you ARE looking for a job and are a bit needy.

4). Volunteer where you can get the most traction. I’m all for following your heart. But if you’re unemployed, you need to get noticed. Working a soup line probably isn’t going to do that, as wonderful and loving as it is. Volunteer for the real stuff after you’re employed. In the meantime, volunteer where you’ll get noticed.

5). Don’t waste your networking time. You don’t have time to waste. Work with someone who can help you network well so you get the most out of each meeting. In fact, until you’ve had some instruction in how to network well, don’t begin networking. You don’t want to burn bridges by being clumsy or inappropriate. But get some help from a friend, a group or a professional today, so you can begin to network ASAP. And ignore completely those who tell you that networking comes “naturally.” You might as well say that sky diving comes naturally and jump out of an airplane. It is a skill and a complex one. And, like all skills, can use instruction.

6). Don’t get over-exposed. As many people as you must meet, don’t go to everything out there. Choose a few great events and venues. If people see you simply everywhere, they will dive under the table to get away from you. Choose with care.

7). Heavily utilize LinkedIn. Most people just “connect” on LinkedIn. Instead, use LinkedIn to find people you can set up a face-to-face meeting with. Just having 30,000 connections is useless. Better to have 400 that you actually use. But still accept all invitations to connect.

8). Most importantly, keep commitments. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Being unemployed is no excuse for being a jerk.

After you’re employed, do everything David says in his great article to the letter so you’re never in this position again. Don’t get so wrapped up in your new job that you forget to plan for the future.