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No Time to NetworkBy: Sri Dasgupta
"No time to network!" Is this something you grapple with?
I can certainly relate to not having enough time in the day to do everything I want to. With a toddler and an infant, ALL my time is spoken for -- for now, at least. Yet I continue to network (successfully, I might add).
How do I manage?
Before I answer the question, let me ask you this: do you consider "networking" to be a distinct and separate activity (like an item on your "to do" list)?
That could be part of the problem.
Well, here are two ways you can network, even when you "don't have time".
1. Integrate "networking" in your normal day.
People "network" all the time. You too. Except, you may not think of what you're doing as "networking".
Here is an example of what I mean:
Let's say you're looking for a landscape maintenance company, that will take care of your yard year round. Mowing the grass in the summer, raking the leaves in the fall, clearing the snow in the winter. But perhaps you're new to the area, or maybe you know the area but are a new homeowner, and you don't know how best to find someone who is reliable, affordable and does good work.
So what do you do? Chances are, you probably ask people you know who are homeowners, for information, recommendations and references.
This is networking.
And as I said, you probably do this kind of thing without thinking.
Now, if you consciously applied the same concept to your business needs, you wouldn't need to carve out extra time for "networking". It would become integrated into your normal day and how you did business.
2. Leverage technology whenever you can.
In this day and age, it's possible to get to know and work with someone without ever meeting them in person. In my previous career, I successfully built and led a team, whose members were located in 4 different continents.
How did we work successfully without ever meeting each other? We simply used technology (nothing fancy -- common stuff like phone and email) to get to know each other, keep in touch and coordinate our work.
You can do the same in networking.
Here are a couple of examples of how you can use technology to your advantage when networking:
A client of mine asked me once if I could recommend some Executive recruiters to him. I didn't have this information. However, I did belong to several online groups that had people who could provide me with this information.
So I posted a question on a few of these lists, describing exactly what I was looking for. Within a couple of days I got a list of Executive recruiters from people I trusted. And I passed this information on to my client.
Note a couple of things here though.
First, this information came from "people I trusted". Even though I'd never met many of them in person, I knew them (or got to know them) through email and/or phone conversations. Second, I posted my question on *some* lists -- I chose only those lists whose members I thought would be best able to help me find this information.
In terms of generating referrals for my own business, here is one way I leverage technology to help me with this:
I regularly ask my customers and subscribers, especially those who find my articles and products useful, to refer people to me.
Specifically, I ask them to tell their friends and associates about these resources, and provide an online form to help facilitate this. I ask for referrals (and present this form) during key interactions, such as when someone requests the free self-paced program, or buys one of my products.
My point is, even when I'm unable to ask for referrals in person, using technology I am still able to ask.
(c) Copyright 2006, Srirupa Dasgupta
Sri Dasgupta helps business professionals get better results from their business networking efforts. She is the author of the Effortless Networking, and writes regular articles offering business networking tips and related resources.
I hope that you have found useful this article on No Time to Network