Have you ever met someone who doesn't seem that bright, or particularly hard-working, but he or she became successful thanks to a great network of contacts? Have you ever met someone who always knows who to call when there's a problem?
That's the power of networking.
I sit on the boards of the Richard Ivey School of Business Alumni Association and the Canadian Sanitation and Supply Association. I'm a member of Entrepreneurs' Organization, which helps successful business owners excel, and Toronto's Spoke Club, a members-only gathering place. I also volunteer at a number of charitable ventures such as MotionBall, GlassFrog and Peacebuilders International.
I invest a lot of time in social media, and on securing and participating in speaking engagements.
I'd like to share five tips for effective networking:
- Always try to put more into your network than you get out of it.
- Associate yourself with other successful people.
- Find excuses to continually touch base with key contacts by introducing them to new opportunities, by inviting them to social functions, or by mentioning them in a blog post (more to come on that).
- Regularly update your social media channels: the evolution of networking.
- Make plays for media attention by touching base with producers, editors and reporters who have stated interests in your field.
These friends of mine have done a good job on the networking front and they're worth a follow:
- Jennifer Love and Alyssa Fraser of Duet Public Relations (www.DuetPublicRelations.com)
- Andrew Sider of UrbanOrca (www.UrbanOrca.com)
- Michael Scissons of Syncapse (www.Syncapse.com)
- Rob Cherun and Erik Mikkelsen of Auxo Management (www.AuxoManagement.com)
- Heather Payne of Ladies Learning Code (www.LadiesLearningCode.com)
- Nicole Verkindt of The OMX (www.TheOMX.com)
And finally, three things to bear in mind:
- Some introverts have great networks.
- If you have a specific expertise, people will want to get to know you.
- You never know what role somebody in your network might play down the road. A pair of examples: I worked on a deal with a banker that fell through, but during the process I was introduced to my Oxford Beach business partner, James Blackburn. And my investors in RoyalPak, who owned a waste transfer station, cold-called me in 2008, after reading a story in The Globe and Mail about a short-term waste removal company I had launched during a garbage strike in Toronto.