COM0015 – Post #3 – Professional Networking

group of lions on a rock

I just have to admit one thing right from the start – I’m a social animal! I love networking, meeting new people, talking about business and digital media and attending educational or social events. This is especially true when there’s food involved!

I have found several in-person and online methods to get involved in networking events, including the use of some social media tools. My favourite thing about networking is when the in-person and online methods converge and strengthen relationships because of the combination.

Meetup Logo

In real life, I like to meet people through Meetup.com and wrote an article about this platform called Use the Internet to Get Off the Internet!

Eventbrite LogoI’ve also found it useful to network through Eventbrite, my local Chambers of Commerce, free social media seminars, my professional association (IABC), mutual business associates, and volunteering in the community. I’ve also done a short working stint for free at a local digital marketing agency.

I’ve found you can meet a huge number of contacts using these methods!

But there’s more to it than just meeting people, sharing a short conversation, and then exchanging business cards. I try to follow up with people after meeting them in person. I connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. I check out their websites. I join LinkedIn groups where my new contacts hang out. Sometimes it’s as easy as sending an email providing some information or a valuable tidbit regarding a conversation we had the previous day. The trick is to keep connected somehow, encouraging a fruitful relationship that can benefit both parties in future.

So my networking activity is already quite hectic. But I always think of more things I should be doing to strengthen my relationships so that one day, people I’ve met will say:

“Hey, Sheila’s into blogging and social media marketing – send her an email.”

My Networking Strategy for 2016

In 2015, I found networking to be easy and enjoyable. In 2016, what will put the “work” into networking for me? To do more in the coming months, I’d like to write some more interesting and informative articles on Pulse on LinkedIn. I’ve noticed my colleagues doing this and getting lots of comments. It keeps their names familiar to me, so I know it helps people remember their contacts. I would also like to send some simple “let’s get together” messages on LinkedIn to my connections.

Next, I’d like to get to know my professional association members better in person. If you happen to be a member of International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and an independent in Toronto, check out our group on LinkedIn called Professional Independent Communicators (PIC). This is a great group of people who share all kinds of information about what it’s like to be an indie in this business. Monthly meetings alternate between educational topics and social gatherings. Our next meeting is tomorrow night with a guest speaker to help boost our productivity in 2016. I’ve met some members who live nearby and we plan to get together for a coffee sometime soon, so I’m already making some headway regarding my 2016 networking strategy.

Do you take advantage of your professional association events? Local chambers of commerce? LinkedIn or event-based social media groups like Meetup and Eventbrite? Do you hold your own special events or workshops? If you haven’t already, why not try some of these groups for your own networking strategy in 2016. And please let me know if you find any new social media networking platforms like them.