How to grow your network to become a connector
You don't have to be a savvy influencer with a large following to make a difference in people around you. Connecting people of similar interests is what networking gurus get paid to do, and what you can practice to get better at seeing and filling needs. As marketers, we are particularly adept at this because of our need to see a gap in what's being offered to customers and then adjust our strategy.
As a marketer, it's important to meet people where they are- not where you are. I love teaching fitness, and I have met some great people that way. But serendipitous meetings won't help develop a large and varied network.
I was brand new to Houston, had never lived here before, and had never even been to Texas before moving for graduate school. Despite all of this, I eventually managed to create a network of people.
What do you do to meet people with similar interests?
- Work - I started here because you already meet so many people. Working for a large company, there were 4000 people just on our campus.
- Coworkers - The people you see every day have their own network. If you work for a global company, it's surprising how many people each person knows. If you have a particular interest, you can reach out to the people at work who may know others inside our outside of work to connect you with.
- Professional organizations - There are plenty of professional organizations like the American Advertising Federation, American Marketing Association, etc. that provide events in your area. Get involved here to meet people with similar professional interests.
- Informal organizations - There are even organizations like Creative Mornings and Social Media Breakfast that offer a professional type of meetup without being the organization you think of off the bat. Close to marketing and advertising is design, there may be opportunities to meet with that community as well (like AIGA).
- Meetups - Informal meetups in your area with people who have a very singular interest, like handlettering or data visualization, may be a great place to meet working professionals and grow a particular skill of interest.
- Alumni organizations - While your alumni organization may not be very involved, it can still add an aspect of connection. They may be able to help connect you to the type of people you are looking for, whether for a new role or to grow professionally.
- Networking events - Even more general networking events may be of benefit to meet people out of your zone of influence. While these can be hit or miss, you may have the opportunity to meet some very interesting people.
Attending a networking event brings me to this point:
Be a connector of people and be active in your network of associates in order to provide greater value to the people around you.
I attended a networking event and met a nice gentleman looking for a content writer for his company. While I offered to freelance, I knew that I may not be the best fit for the type of writing he was looking for. We exchanged cards and moved on.
A week later, I met another gentleman at a professional luncheon who was a professional writer. I remembered the networking person I had met the week before, had a light bulb go off, and then connected the two. A few weeks later, they are working together and have developed value for both of their businesses.
That's all it takes it introducing two people together to become a connector.
How can you connect the people to create greater relationship value?