Friday, June 17, 2005

Are you networked?

Every since reading the post Networking 101 from Seth Levine a few weeks ago, I've been thinking a lot about the power of networking. I've never landed a job by answering an advertisement or by competing against a bunch of other applicants. Every job I've ever had has come from networking.

I got my first real job, waiting tables at an upscale local restaurant, because I met the manager at a political party gathering. I received my first job out of college because somebody-I-knew-knew-somebody-who-was-looking-for-somebody-like-me...and she made the introduction. I even got a job from an acquaintance I bumped into at a Christmas party. With my current job in public relations, I'm now the guy who's expected to know people (in fact, I just had someone I knew from a previous job call me earlier this week asking for help with a job search).

So, let's say you believe in the power of networking but you don't know where to start. Well, the aforementioned post is a good place to start. One of the best practitioners of the art of networking is Keith Ferrazzi, who's book Never Eat Alone shares his tips. If you're curious, but you don't want to fork over the the $16.47 that Amazon is asking, you're in luck. As is the case with many books, this one started with an article. Ferrazzi's co-author interviewed him for Inc. Magazine and so you can read The 10 Secrets of a Master Networker for free.

The article on networking that had the most influence on me came from the May, 2000 issue of Details Magazine. Titled "Aren't You Famous Yet?" the nine-page article was penned by Dan Zevin. Here's the Cliffs Notes version:

Step 1: Schmooze or Lose. In order to get ahead, you have to cultivate your contacts and you do that by doing favors for them, not asking them to do favors for you. Here's one relevant excerpt: "Let's say you're a fitness trainer," says David Posternack of Rubenstein Public Relations. "You have a client who mentions he's looking for office space. A few days later, you're introduced to a realtor. Not only should you get thes two in contact, you should suggest that all three of you go out for drinks. And you should probably pick up the tab." What's in it for you? Maybe nothing. But if they end up doing business maybe the realtor thanks you by cutting you a commission. Maybe your client is so grateful that he recommends you to five friends. "All of a sudden, you're not only a fitness trainer," Posternack says. "You're the man. Everyone's talking about what a smart guy you are."

Step 2: Build your Buzz. You generate buzz by inventing demand. Restaurant publicists get it not by swinging the doors open to everyone but by hyping the "fact" that it's impossible to get a reservation. Zevin gives the award for the year's best buzz-building performance to The Blair Witch Project for the 21,222,589 hits their website received.

Step 3: Meet the Press. The news media can extend your 15 minutes of fame, but you have to know what you're doing.

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