January 23, 2015
There was a study done in the 70's that involved the best place to sit at a table in order to communicate with as many people as possible. One would assume that this study would also depend on a person's personality traits -- if they were introverts or extroverts or even if the topic of conversation had any relevance to their own interests. However, that wasn't the case and everyone wasn't able to communicate equally with each other. The person who was at the head of the table was able to communicate with 9 people, while a person sitting in the middle could only communicate with 8.
With most of our networking and communication today, we're all at the head of the table. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the internet as a whole give us the platform to increase the frequency at which we can communicate at all hours of the day.
But are we using this to our advantage? When was the last time you looked at your network to see if you could expand it to create even more meaningful connections? Now, we can easily double our network and perform outreach in an authentic, relevant way using the platforms we use every day.
LinkedIn has over active 300 million professionals on the network and is prime ground for developing you own professional network. Besides connecting with the people you might know, the other great resource that is often glossed over is the powerful search capabilities LinkedIn has. The basic components are searching by company, location, job title, industry, etc. You also are able to filter to certain results like specific groups, posts, and profile language. I found that searching through specific posts is helpful in engaging in conversations on topics relevant to marketing.
Another side to LinkedIn to find more people to expand your network is to look where you rank with professionals like you. These are people within the same field as you and around the same number of years of experience. This is a perfect opportunity for you to connect with these people, exchange ideas, and ultimately expand your network. You can get to this section under "Who's Viewed Your Profile" and at the top right side click "How You Rank For Profile Views." You are then able to filter by professionals like you or by your workplace.
Twitter also has a great search engine as well and searching for potential contacts. You can search by hashtag, handle, or general topic to see who is tweeting about that topic. You can then, unless the person has their tweets protected, follow them easily and follow along with what content is relevant to them.
An idea to try is to search for specific articles that others have tweeted out that you have shared as well. If you copy the link of the article you just shared and paste it into the search you can see the others who have shared. You can then see potential people who you can connect with and being the conversation with the perfect starter about the article you just shared.
Frequently, individual email correspondence isn't always just between two people. There are people bcc'd, cc'd, forwarding, replying etc. all happen between multitudes of people. However, in our minds in terms of our own contacts and the emails we exchange, we think in very binary terms -- our individuals selves and the one other person we message.
However, as previously mentioned, there are sometimes many other people in those exchanges that could help you cultivate an even bigger network base. With emails, specifically with gmail, as long as you've had some contact with that person or one touch point, you can then download all of those contacts directly. You can then take these email addresses and then research to figure out if these are people you should have a closer relationship with. You have their email and it's easier to find some of their other social contact information.
Most email clients allow for you to download all of your contacts. For example, with Gmail you can download a csv of all of your contacts very quickly.
Meetup is network where you can final local events with people who share the same interests as you. There are over 20 million users on Meetup who are ready to meet new people and connect over common interests, which is one of the best places for you to double your network.
Although actually going to events may be really time consuming and you may not maximize your time meeting as many people as possible, however, you still can access the guest list. Many of the people RSVPing for these events attach their social profiles to their Meetup account, allowing you to engage with them on those networks.
Sometimes the easiest way to expand the size of your own network is to go back to your current network and ask contacts if they know of anyone who to connect with. Maybe some of us are a little gun shy to actually ask, but once we get over that hesitancy we can potentially find a warm introduction to someone new to gain insight from.
Maybe glance at a contact's network connections on Linkedin, or see who they work with at their company. A little sleuthing might be involved, but you should be able to find the right contacts you would like introductions for.
Another idea is to offer an introduction of your own first Ok, maybe it sounds a little like if I scratch your back, you should scratch mine, but if you're willing to offer your own introduction the other party may be more willing to provide you an intro.
Networking isn't something easy to do and I completely admire the people who can do it gracefully and without any inhibitions. But, with a little effort with the networks you already have you can easily double the size of your network in an authentic way.