7 unexpected ways to create your own networking luck

By Haylin Belay
The Brief
Put that suspiciously green beer away! St. Patrick’s Day may be a holiday associated with colored alcohol and shamrock-shaped souvenirs, but it’s also about luck. Here at RelSci we believe that when it comes to building your relationship capital, you need to make your own luck. So in the spirit of the holiday, here are seven ways to build a little luck into your networking game.  

1.     Put in face-to-face time.

The Internet is a powerful tool for making connections, but can also be an obstruction to relationship building. According to a recent study in the Atlantic Marketing Journal, living your professional life online could contribute to a skewed view of in-person networking as awkward or pointless. That’s just not true. Whether you’re getting started, making a big career change or simply looking to expand your network, make sure to get out and do it in “the real world.”

2.     Embrace “yes.”

While it’s true that saying no can help overworked professionals avoid burnout, you’ll never have the network you want if you don’t say yes as well. Pick a light work-week, and try saying yes for seven straight days—especially to members of your network who are looking for small favors. Build up enough good will and you might find a lot more success the next time you’re looking for someone to say “yes” to you.

3.     Re-connect regularly.

“Out with the old, in with the new” is a good motto for your refrigerator, but not for your network. After all, you worked hard to make those contacts; why let them fade away? This week, take some time to reach out to someone you haven’t heard from in a while, or send out an update to a contact who helped you in the past. Reaching out when you don’t have a favor to ask shows those contacts that you care, and keeps them from forgetting your name.

4.     Seek out an expert.

Didn’t have time to read all those “Top 10” lists at the start of 2015? Pick up a book on business networking or check out a round-up of networking tips like this one from notable Influencer Jon Levy, and experiment with some new techniques until you find the ones that work for you.

5.     Reach out to a junior

Does schmoozing make you feel a little dirty? A study from Administrative Science Quarterly found that people who find networking “dirty” do it less often, and their job performance suffers as a result. There is a solution, though. The study suggests that those “dirty” feelings go away when professionals network with people lower on the totem pole. So go ahead, do a good deed and reach out to someone a little further down the ladder. Give an informational interview or just some advice. It will help you ease into networking while still building valuable relationship capital.

6.     Ditch the business cards.

As a greater portion of our professional lives happen online, the business card seems more and more like a relic of an age gone by. They haven’t gone the way of the beeper quite yet, but networking experts, like Derek Coburn, author of Networking is Not Working, say it’s time to leave the cards behind and focus on building relationships that add actual value to your network.

7.     Mix and mingle.

It’s tempting to seek out connections primarily with people who are like you, but a good network needs diversity. Switch things up this spring by meeting with someone from a different industry, or scheduling an event with a different department or team in your organization. Talking to people with expertise outside of your own can generate new ideas and unexpected connections, so don’t shy away from the unknown—embrace it.
Haylin Belay is a freelance writer and blogger based in New York City. She is a frequent contributor to the RelSci blog.

RelSci is a technology solutions company that helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers.

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