If you are one of those people who knows how important networking is but just can’t seem to make the time for it, read on.
Even though networking does take some time, it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Here are some ways that you can work networking into your schedule without feeling totally overwhelmed.
1) Social media networking. Make sure that your in-person networking contacts are also your social media networking contacts. That way you can easily stay in touch with your contacts without investing a huge amount of time. LinkedIn is the premiere social networking site for executives and professionals, so if you dedicate time to only one site, it should be LinkedIn.
2) Social media status updates. Updating your network on social media is a quick and painless way to network without investing a lot of time. You should offer something of value to your network through your status updates. Perhaps you can share an article that others would appreciate or offer your expertise. People will start avoiding you after a while if you are simply sharing personal information or if all you have to say is that you are looking for a job.
3) Short lunch meetings. Even though the Internet has become a great way to communicate with people, nothing can compare with face-to-face contact. Schedule time to go to lunch with people in your network periodically to get face time with them. This will really personalize your contacts with people in your network. The issue though is to keep the meetings short so that they do not eat up too much time.
4) Join online groups. Join groups and actually participate in groups on different social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. This is a great way to network and meet new people virtually. Answer questions that other members have posed and ask questions of your own. Also, post information such as articles that other people in your field would appreciate. If you consistently provide good content, it will drive traffic to your profile and at the same time promote your brand.
5) Turn events/classes into networking opportunities. If you regularly attend professional association meetings or if you are taking a class for or not for credit, these are built-in ways that you can network. The idea is to kill two birds with one stone. Use activities that you are already involved in to double as networking opportunities.
6) Reach out to networking contacts over the phone. In-person meetings are great, but if you are very pressed for time, phone meetings tend to be easier to limit. There generally isn’t the same pressure to keep the conversation going over the phone as there is in person. You can tell your contact at the beginning of the conversation that you only have a limited time (i.e., half an hour), and once you have set this boundary, it is then easier to end the conversation when the half an hour is over.
So now that you no longer have the excuse that you don’t have the time, start networking!