Be proactive with networking to make it work for you

Be proactive with networking to make it work for you

Like anything in life, you need to be proactive with networking for it to successfully work for you. It takes time and effort before you begin to reap the rewards of your activities.
It is true that other people will put in some effort to network with you. However, you also need to actively engage with others. Networking is not a one-sided process.

Produce Your Own Events, Seminars

A great way to proactively get yourself in front of people is to produce your own networking events or seminars. By doing so, you are letting others know who you are and what you have to offer.
You may want to produce a social event in which you can invite your network or a speaker event that you may open up to the general public. Further, you may want to hold a seminar that allows you to speak about a topic with which you have some expertise.
No matter what type of event you put together, make sure it can add some value to those attending. By adding value, people who attend will remember you and may reach out to you to become a part of your network.
Holding events will increase your exposure to the networking community. This will be very helpful when you reach out to people in the business community. At the same time, you will start to brand yourself as a subject expert and a person people need to know.
By bringing others to you, you will get a chance to meet professionals in your element. Also, more professionals will most likely approach you (instead of you having to approach them first) because you will be sought out at your own event.
If you have a goal of producing your own event, make sure to follow through with your vision. The benefits will outweigh the effort that you put into organizing the event.

Brand Yourself

As previously mentioned, producing your own events will help you to brand yourself in networking circles. By actively branding yourself, you will stand out when meeting others and while attending networking events.
In networking, it is important for people to remember you. By proactively branding yourself, you are setting yourself apart from other professionals. You will show others that you take networking seriously and you want to make sure it successfully works for you and for them.
A great way to brand yourself is to become a subject expert. Pick a topic that you are passionate about or one in which you have professional expertise.
Learn all you can about this subject so you are very knowledgeable when talking with others. Ways to show others that you are a subject expert include speaking at events, writing a column in an industry publication and creating a Web site.
Other simple ways to brand yourself include wearing your own recognizable name tag to each event you attend, making your business cards stand out or engaging in memorable conversations with others.
Not many people portray themselves as subject experts in the networking community. With a little effort, you can become a recognized and respected person in the networking and business communities.

Keep in Touch With People

Without building relationships with others, networking won’t work too well for you. You should actively keep in touch with people in your network.
Though keeping in touch doesn’t have to take a lot of your time, it does require some effort. Also, keep in mind that you will want to keep in touch more regularly with some people over others.
An easy way to maintain contact with people is via e-mail. It’s good to send an e-mail every once in a while to certain people with information about your career and the industry.
In addition, e-mail allows you to send out an electronic newsletter to everyone in your network at one time. With an e-newsletter, you can be creative in what content you provide. Still, make sure it’s relevant and useful for people.
With some people, it’s good to connect with them via phone. Since you obviously can’t do this with everyone, be selective because your time is already limited.
A great way to keep in touch with people is to notify them of events. One such example is Friday’s Young Professionals of Chicago (YPC) event, which features Motorola chief marketing officer Geoffrey Frost.
No mater what method you use to keep in touch with people, make sure you find good reasons to reach out and connect with them. You want to build meaningful relationships with people and you should be thoughtful in your communications.

Final Thought

If you want networking to work for you, you need to make it happen. Be proactive by reaching out to others and by making yourself stand out from the pack. Take the time to make yourself successful with networking. It will be well worth the effort.

Jason Jacobsohn currently serves as the president of the DePaul Entrepreneurs Association (DEA) and sits on the board of the DePaul Business & Technology Alumni Network. He also operates his own business and networking resources Web site at

This article has been syndicated on the Wisconsin Technology Network courtesy of ePrairie, a user-driven business and technology news community distributed via the Web, the wireless Web and free daily e-mail newsletters.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, & do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.