I have for sometime been sharing my new theory of networking for transitioning executives. Since I know that driving oneself to network is a challenge for everyone, I thought this week I would outline my theory of the 15 slots.
Simply put in any given week there are 15 slots or opportunities to connect with others, 5 breakfast/AM coffee, 5 lunches or mid-day drop-byes and 5 dinners or drinks.
Now I am sure your boss, significant other, lending institution and or off-spring planning on spending their inheritance keep you well motivated to get done a plethora of tasks and projects, however no one (baring a retained executive coach) truly keeps you accountable to yourself.
Now I know lots of fantastic executives and many of them are very good at networking however everyone struggles with being consistent about their networking endeavors. While transitioning executives clearly must amp up their networking the truth is that if we all maintained a consistent level of networking then being in transition would not be as much of an issue. Clearly few of us are digging our wells before we are thirsty and many who have a well forgot where they left it.
I clearly remember one member of my networking group who went into transition for the second time in the 5 year history of the group and showed up saying, “yep I know, I know I blew it, I got a job, stopped networking and now I have to start up my networking efforts again.” Are you doing the same?
Now naturally you could not fill all 15 slots with one on one networking opportunities even if you had nothing else to do. Even if we allow 1 out of 4 slots to be filled with networking “events” like ExecTec or association meetings there is a limit.
The slots are meant to give you a away to measure your performance.
Those looking for work should be targeting 3-8 slots a week with 1 to 2 being group networking functions (which will be critical to finding new people to fill the other slots). Working executives should be filling 1 to 3 slots with one group networking function (anyone should be able to fill 1 slot out of 15 per week).
You are looking to connect with anyone and everyone. Get outside your circle, vocation, industry and meet with people you might not otherwise meet. You never know, that unlikely executive that seemingly has no direct value might be the person to connect you with the person who will fund your dream or open the door to that great job.
During these interactions don’t go straight for your elevator pitch or corner your contact and demand the name of three more potential victims. The goal is to establish a relationship and connection. What you must do is ask what you can do for them. Specifically transitioning executives have a fantastic opportunity to invest their time in being of aid to others. Trust me nothing will make more of an impression then your doing for someone else. They will remember and they will look for ways to assist you now or later. Even working executives can and should ask how they could be of aid to the other person. This approach will almost assure that no one will ever turn down an opportunity to meet with you another time.
With a relationship established you are clear to make plain your goals and when the time is right to seek direct aid for those goals.
Lastly establish a presence that keeps you in the peripheral vision of those that you have connected with. This means finding ways of interacting with your contact on the social networking sites where they exist. This helps keep you in their minds between in person interactions. When was the last time you RSVPed for ExecTec? Doing serves to create a presence that reminds those you have met at dinners that you are out there. Anyone who has been a part of the group for any length of time knows that the one of the most notable member of the group is someone who has never joined us but religiously RSVP’s to every event.
The goal is to connect and establish solid ties with other executives, whether you measure sucess by how many of the 15 slots you can fill or make every Tuesday night a night where you gather in Westwood with other great executives the key is to set aside the excuses as to why you don’t and start networking. After all you can loose the job, have your company bought out, change careers or move cross country but you can not loose a strong network and armed with that anything is possible.
If you would like to discuss networking and humor me in my theory of 15 slots (hey it fills one slot). Feel free to join me Tuesday night in Westwood at my ExecTec Networking dinner, I promise if nothing else the conversation will be interesting and the people you met will be some of the best networkers you could ever want to meet.