If you are striving to make an impact in your community or industry, you have to have a strong network.
No, I'm not talking about WiFi (although that really does help), I'm talking about you being connected to people who you can create a mutually beneficial relationship with. A strong network comprises people across multiple industries who you feel comfortable vouching for and vice versa.
So, how do you get there?
I spoke with Pete Davies, Director of Product, Feed, and Content at LinkedIn, and he made a few things clear when it came to building a good, reliable, and recommendation-worthy network.
It's about quality, not quantity.
Davies admitted that in this day and age of social media, it feels like big numbers are the most important metric to take note of, but in reality, this is not true. Having people in your network that you can actually talk to on a personal and professional level are key to a long-lasting network. Know who they are beyond their job title and you are guaranteed to feel more connected and invested.
"Find your tribe, find what you're actually interested in. Don't follow where there are the most people," Davies says.
I am such an avid believer in this. These days, when I meet a person and we don't connect, it's okay. I don't have to be best friends with everyone at a happy hour. What I do strive to do is find at least one person that I really vibe with and then have a real conversation with them. From there, I know I can leave the event having made one true connection rather than twenty poor ones.
Find your niche.
Who are you? What do you represent? What do you believe in?
Davies says that it's common for people to attempt networking by joining the biggest online groups online or trying to voice yourself in an already crowded conversation. He continues, "Find the niche. Where can you stand up in a room? Find that person or people, find out what they're talking about, and start contributing."
Get out of your bubble.
Davies makes it a point to change his LinkedIn feed's settings so that he sees updates and news from people he does not know. This helps him step outside of the network he already knows and tap into a world beyond his colleagues and family so that he can hear what else is going on.
Remember, you don't have to be the loudest person in the room.
Davies stands strongly behind introverts. He understands that some people just don't want to spark controversial online conversations but they are still there, nodding along. He says that it's okay to be a more passive person in a group or conversation because having the speaker feel like they're being heard is a strong connection in itself.
My best advice to follow up to this? Find downtime to speak when others aren't speaking. When conversations are dominated by a few voices, use this time to write and publicize your thoughts elsewhere or connect with the host after the event has subsided. Remember, to be heard, you do not have to be loud.
Having a strong network takes a lot of work and nurturing, but once all is said and done, nothing is more gratifying than having people in your corner when you need them. Regardless of how you go about networking, don't forget to be your authentic self. Ultimately, that is what will be your most valuable asset.