The Greatest Networking Secret
Raise your hand if you are looking for work.
Ok, great. Now raise your hand if you are looking for better ways to network.
Ok, you can put your hands down. You are sitting at your computer (or looking at your iPhone) and I bet you look kind of silly.
Either way, the road to your goal isn’t easy. Networking is definitely an acquired skill that doesn’t come naturally to most people – some of us are not even fully aware of just how useful this skill is until we have an idea, business or product to market!
When I was getting started on my business I applied for freelance jobs on craigslist, perused e-lance, and just about any other online community I could find. Looking back on this, it wasn’t a bad idea: just a bit misinformed. – browsing the net like a madman throwing my application and a link to my (incomplete at the time) portfolio to anyone out there who might listen.
As I sit here today and take a good, hard look at my clients, I can tell you where about 60% of them originated.
From the same 3 or 4 people, actually. My friends.
Why Your Friends are Your Greatest Networking Asset
Even if you don’t have a lot of friends, chances are good that one of them is well connected.
Say for example that you tell your friend that you sell skeleton keys. Your friend will likely store that information away (after having a good laugh.) Then one day while bowling at the local bowling alley, your friend might just happen to remember your skeleton key business. The man in the lane next to him might just be telling a sad story about how nobody can open the rusted-out lock to his tool shed at home. That he’s given up, and has nowhere to turn. Your friend might just mention your business to this distraught individual.
Friends are wonderful. While they are obviously not only to be used for networking purposes, they know you (and like you) a heck of a lot better than the mysterious stranger in the HR department or the faceless internet ad poster from Moscow, Idaho. And they are usually more than happy to put in a good word for you.
As a web developer, I find that probably 75% of the population either needs a website, or needs their website updated. The other 25% are missing out.
When I started my business I offered some of my services for a reduced price, or even for free, because I was more concerned about networking. Many of those original clients are people I met through friends and family, and those clients have mentioned my work to other prospects who in turn have given me quite a bit of work. It is truly amazing that I can trace so many of my clients back to just a few sources!
This is something to really keep in mind if you are hitting a wall in your networking habits. Remember your friends – they really can help you out. Don’t be afraid to slip them a couple business cards when they aren’t looking.
“Wow – How did that get in there?”
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