If I had a dollar for every session that promises the secrets of networking, I would be richer than I am now.
It used to be that networking meant going to cocktail parties with a well-rehearsed elevator pitch and a fistful of business cards.
The problem with this approach is that it’s random. You have no idea who is going to be at these sorts of functions. Will there be anyone who is interested in your skill set or industry knowledge? You really don’t know.
These days, it’s all about targeted networking. You know want to be connecting with people who get you. That’s where the real value is.
How do you find the bulls eye in targeted networking? Think about what you do, not in terms of title or responsibility but what problems you fix. Let’s face it, we get paid for work because it solves a problem.
Maybe you take care of customers, maybe you find cheaper supplies or maybe you can get groups of people to do things. Take your job to the bare bones of what you do and what problem it solves.
Once you know that, the next step is easy. Who else has this problem? Think of five organizations that have the same issue and boom, there is your target list.
The next step is to decide how to connect. You can use LinkedIn. You can go to industry association trade shows. You can read newspapers and trade journals. Just keep focusing on connecting with people who have problems you can solve.
Leaving things to chance is fine if you are in a romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl, but I am pretty sure this is a better way for the rest of us.