This article comes from Entrepreneur.
Here are 11 tips to resolve the networking issue when you’re crunched for time.
As career expert J.T. O’Donnell noted in an interview with Work It Daily, “It’s easy to say, ‘I don’t have time for networking.’ But the truth is, networking needs to be a habit, just like we brush our teeth, we shower and we exercise.” Think of this way. If you exercise daily, you always make time to squeeze in a workout. You may be jam-packed at work today, so you can’t hit the gym for two hours, but you still make it possible to fit in 30 minutes.
“For all of you out there who are time-crunched, stop thinking about networking in terms of this big block of time,” O’Donnell added. “Start thinking about what you can do in micro-blocks of time.” For example, if you can’t attend a networking event weekly, make it a recurring monthly event. Or, set aside around 20 minutes a day to build connections online.
When it comes to networking, no one ever said it means solely obtaining new connections. After all, there’s a good chance that there are some quality connections already in your existing network. A great place to start is at work. Take the time to get to know your team instead of just viewing them as nameless, faceless employees. Grab lunch with staff or associates every week and find out more about them. You’ll discover that you will both benefit from the relationship. Outside of work, turn to friends and family. You’re already spending quality time with them, so why not ask them if there is anyone they know who could use your help? And never rule out past contacts. As long as no bridges were burned, you can always reach out and see if they want to catch up.
Why not tap into your existing social commitments and add them to the networking events you already have in your busy schedule? Strike up conversations when you’re at the gym or volunteering rather than keeping to yourself. Another option would be to start chit-chatting with those next to you during a public talk or in your professional-development class. All of these causal contact points have been of considerable benefit to me. This process isn’t as easy if you’re an introvert, but the more you put yourself out there, the more comfortable you’ll become at breaking the ice.
In an article for Calendar, writer Choncé Maddox recommends, “If you want to make time for networking, you need to be intentional when it comes to making room on your schedule. Odds are, you may not be able to attend an event last-minute, but you can plan ahead by getting organized.”
Maddox mentions that she sets a goal of attending at least one event each month, stating, “Going to an event weekly would just be too much for me right now, but this monthly goal is easy for anyone to fit into their schedule.”
After you’ve narrowed down your list, add these events to your calendar so that you have more than enough time to prepare. You should be selective when it comes to networking events. If you are new to the events scene, focus on participating in local activities that connect with your career interests and where you can find a friend or coworker to go with you. More intimate conferences are better when you’re just starting, allowing you to get to to know the other attendees.
Social media has become a popular and convenient way to network. At the same time, it can eat up a big part of your day if you’re not careful. Think about what your goals are and then match them with the right social channel. This way, you’re not wasting your time on a platform that isn’t furthering your social efforts. Twitter, for instance, is an excellent tool to engage with industry influencers, but LinkedIn remains the best option for straightforward, professional connections.
If you do have multiple social accounts, consolidate them with a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer. The quick consolidation of channels allows you to schedule your accounts from one dashboard so that you’re not bouncing back and forth.
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