You can read the previous posts here. To finish up (I think), I want to share a networking technique I stumbled on a few years ago, and talk about one more good reason to network.
I've been working with SQL Server for 10 years or so, and while I can't really quantify my network, it's large enough that at almost any SQL event I'll know at least a few people, and there are usually people that 'know me' via articles or blog posts that I haven't met yet. I try to hit most of the parties to work the room a little, using that as a good time to just renew ties to people that in many cases I see only once a year, and often only talk to once a year. It's social more than business, but you never how how the two will overlap.
But I still struggle to catch up with everyone I want to see. A technique that Steve Jones & I settled on by accident is to just find a comfortable place to sit that is on the main traffic lane near sessions or registration, and spend a couple hours there each day. On any given day we'll have a couple dozen people stop by to chat for a few minutes that one of us knows, and just being in the same place makes it easy for us to tell people where to find us, or to catch back up with us later. I don't want that to sound like we're holding court! Perhaps better to say that we're setting up an impromptu booth for Steve & Andy with a goal of networking. It works better than I can make it sound, and there's something to be said for just having a place to sit and have coffee.
As I looked back through the comments on earlier posts about networking there was one that interesting - the idea that most of us are pretty reluctant to ask our network for anything. Yet the corollary is that most of would gladly help someone we know if the request is reasonable, and get great satisfaction from doing so. So if you can't convince yourself that building a network to help you succeed is a worthy task, maybe it's interesting to think about building a network to be able to do good things for people you like. Sappy maybe, but giving is pretty good stuff.
I keep thinking I need a more complicated strategy (and maybe I do), but for now my strategy is:
- Use my blog to display my interests and use it as the primary vehicle to let people know what/how I'm doing (existing network & possible expand to new people)
- Expand my use of LinkedIn and start posting status updates there for people that probably won't read my blog (existing network)
- Continue to make business personal by trying to meet and spend time getting to know new people at every event I attend (new people)
- Not expect any immediate or mid-term return on my time investment
Don't make networking work. It can be fun, and if you see it as fun you'll do more of it. Good luck on your own networking attempts!