How I network best

I’ve been really enjoying doing some “low-key networking from my desk” over the past few months.  I’ve been slowly connecting with people (mostly through twitter) and inviting them to have a phone chat with me.

Typically on these chats I ask them two questions:

1)      What is it that you do? What is your current role? What does it mean…etc
2)      How did you get there? What was your journey?

Most of the time, this easily fills a 30 minute phone conversation with someone.

I’ve found that while as professionals there is often that huge push to go to a conference, publish in a publication, or present at a conference.  Many of us are going to these conferences to bring things back to our home campuses.  Many of us are also going just to network with other professionals.

I typically go for both reasons.  I find, however, that while at conferences I usually spend a lot of time sitting down with people and having a 1:1 chat.  I realized this past fall that I can easily do this from my desk or living room.

The upside of having good networking chats not at a conference is that there are limited conference interruptions (friends walking by saying hi…etc), I don’t have to worry about my tie being tied too tightly, and I know that I can write down their name (instead of staring awkwardly at their nametag…on their chest…) to try to remember their name at that key moment in conversation.

How do you network best? What are some tips/tools that you use?


2 responses to “How I network best

  1. I love this idea!

    I find that I am better at networking when I find time to talk one-on-one outside of the conference setting. I like having the initial connection through a conference sponsored program, but the strength of the relationship builds in the communication that comes after the formal meeting.

    I am fortunate to be able to be in touch with many of these folks over the course of several years. Sometimes we can go over a year without talking and then we will see each other or reach out in some way and reconnect.

    There are many ways to network and stay connected. I am glad to have been inspired by this post. And I cannot wait to talk with you later this week!

  2. Great post Brian – it’s good to see you writing again. I’ve been following a similar method of networking over the past couple of years. It’s amazing and affirming to know that so many people in the field are open and absolutely willing to chat. Perhaps it’s a comment on the type of person who chooses student affairs as a profession, but it also speaks to us ‘walking the talk’ in how we work with our students. In providing space to ask questions and explore ideas for each other, we get great practice in, and role model the way to, meaningful conversations with our students.

    I’m a big fan of getting to know the ‘people behind the information’, so I often start a conversation based on a tweet or share or comment. This way, we both already have a shared interest to talk about and that spark of conversation leads quickly to the questions you describe. I love active engagement and connection, so all I need is that small window to get started. 🙂

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