Aug 12, 2006

How do I network? 7 years of learning



I often get questions from friends who want to know what is the secret of my networking? Or as the Hindi Surf ad goes "Tera networking mere networking ke zyaada safed kaise?"

The reason I get these questions is because most people are told that if they are not networking these days they are not doing the X-factor that would grant them career success (whether that is in getting a deal or finding a job).

For me networking in the digital world started 7 years ago as part of my job. I was part of the Knowledge Management team at my first job post my MBA and my boss told me that we should be doing something to brand our organization's work in the KM area.

I had just become aware of email based virtual communities on egroups.com (since then acquired by yahoo to form Yahoogroups.com ) and I ended up creating the KMSI egroup. Then I created the HRGyan egroup to share HR related knowledge with fellow professionals in India.

From egroups I moved to web based communities like Howard Rheingold's Brainstorms community, which I am no longer a member of, but plan to go back again after some time. My areas of interest were developing into how virtual communities and Communities of Practice interact to share knowledge and improve productivity. So while I was enagaged in the content of these communities, I was even more involved in the processes of interaction behind them. I learnt the pros and cons of virtual communities and became a community junkie for some time. I still retain memberships of Ryze, Linkedin and Orkut whereas my profiles on hi5, MySpace are languishing :-)

So coming back to the point on which I began this post, what works for me in networking, specially virtually? Here are my top 10 learnings over the last 7 years:

  1. Always look to help people out who come to you for any issue
  2. If you cannot it then redirect them to someone who can.
  3. To be able to do #2 you should know people at a personal level to engage with.
  4. Move the relationship to phone or offline level to take it to the next level
  5. Ignore personal attacks. It can get tempting to react, but does not do any good for anybody.
  6. Keep your contacts "warm". Let them know what's happening in your life.
  7. Except for very close realtionships most relationships have a "what's in it for me" attitude. Meet that question and make it clear.
  8. If you need any help, broadcast. You never know from where help can come.
  9. Blog.
  10. Comment on others blogs.