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Weekly (12/14/09)

Topic of the Week  Not Linkedin... How to network at work today

Networking basics:

DO be generous.
DO grow your network.
DO reach out regularly.
DON'T only network online.

911 Repair,

Sometimes it seems like "Networking" is the answer, no matter what the question in terms of today's workplace. But how do you network without it sucking up every minute of your workday? Which reminds me of a friend that I haven't seen in a long time. She wrote to me about how much she enjoys "seeing" me on Facebook. I would have thought that it would have been hard to cheapen friendships in America today, but Facebook has managed to do it.

I've got a different philosophy of networking. Mine involves actually taking time to get to know what people are really up to, which involves dialogue. I know, I'm old school that way. I've included three Do's and one Don't for maintaining your network in these harried and hassled times. For more, check out "Seven Days to Online Networking" by Sautter and Crompton (Jist, 2008).

DO be generous. Many people approach networking with a simple philosophy, "Me, me, me." That isn't networking at all it's shameless self-promotion. Networking involves putting as much energy and effort into them, as you'd like them to put into you. Take the time to find out about other people's interest and concerns. And keep your eyes out for information or ways that you can help make connections for them. A simple strategy, keep a record of someone's issues and interests in your contacts program. When you come across an article on the subject you can do a quick search and find who you need to send it to.

DO grow your network. Sure it takes time, but networks are like a shark, they have to keep moving to survive or you'll have a dead shark on your hands (with all due credit to Woody Allen). I'm not talking about the number of friends you have on Facebook or Linkedin, not at all. I'm taking about people who you actually take the time to get to know. This is not a numbers game or a contest. It's more like building a foundation underneath you to expand your reach and effectiveness.

DO reach out regularly. Come up with a simple formula, possibly that you'll reach out to someone in your network monthly. Or weekly. It's important to put effort into your network on a regular basis. But more importantly, you will find that it's fun to get updates on people who you know and like. And since they're in your network, you'll discover that they have helpful things to say about whatever challenge you're currently facing.

DON'T only network online. I've read that people actually call other people on the phone. And that some people, you'd better sit down before you read this, actually meet with other people face-to-face. Amazing, but true. Sure it will take a bit of extra time, but the rewards will more than outweigh the small investment of time.

You can see people on Facebook, but you need to go deeper than that to be effective.

About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. If you have a question for Bob, contact him via bob@workplace911.com.

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