Starting a business is like getting a job. It’s more about who you know than what you know. Many of my male colleagues have networks and contacts built up within the industry. Their opinions are trusted more on technical matters than mine are.I even asked Anna Runyan of Classy Career Girl to write a guest post for me on Why Networking is Important which ran earlier this week. Anna mentions some interesting points about barriers that hold you back from networking. I could relate to all of them. Her post also got me thinking about another networking fallacy:
The truth is you should be developing and nurturing your network on an ongoing basis. And networking is a two-way process. The most successful networks are ones where you give your network more than you receive.Networking is only important when you are looking for a new job
I realized I have been neglecting my own network. Over the past couple of years I have become increasingly disillusioned with my accounting career. So much so, that I have been contemplating a career change. The practical side of me, however, realizes I still need to support myself and a career change is most likely a pipe dream. Not wanting my accounting network to know I want out I have been ignoring it. Also being an introvert, it is easy for me to sit in the corner allowing others to sit at the table.
It is time I get back in the game:
I have decided to join Anna Runyan's Networking Challenge. Here is the challenge Anna created for herself:
Every month I would meet with four people I already knew but would like to get to know even better. I also made a point of meeting with four new people. My goal was to learn from each person I talked to and ask questions about how I to get to the next step in my career.Anna says we don't have to start with 4 people right away she recommends we begin with just a couple of people the first month and grow from there. Her most important tip is to plan ahead, write down who we want to meet with and email them before the month starts. Her second tip is to find someone to keep us accountable. For her accountability, she shares her progress with us on her blog and we keep her accountable.
My Networking Challenge:
I am going to begin with meeting two people I already know and two that I don't each month. These will be people in my community. I too, am going to use my blog audience to keep me accountable. I am also going to try to attend two local events each week. These could be meetings at trade associations or book events at book stores or libraries. Lisa Bloom author of the book Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World (which I wrote about here) has challenged us to attend one book event a month. I am going to take her up on it. On a side note you may be interested in the following offer Lisa made to her twitter followers @LisaBloom:
Special Offer! Anyone who goes to an author event at your local bookstore or library and tells me about it gets a retweet.My new blog series:
I am starting a new series on my blog - interviews with other female bloggers who have interesting or unusual careers they are passionate about. My first interview will appear later this week. My ultimate goal will be to run two interviews each month. In order to achieve this I will have to establish several new social contacts each week in addition to maintaining my current network. My biggest fear is that without prior contact my interview email requests will be considered spam. My challenge will be to make 4 new social contacts each week in addition to keeping up with 4 current contacts.
On being accountable:
As part of this post, I was going to link to Getting my Ducks in a Row, a previous blog post where I introduced a similar challenge. In rereading that post, I noticed how similar it was to this one. As I recall, that particular challenge did not last very long, which just goes to show how hard networking can be for people like me. I think by actually joining Anna’s challenge and having this post listed on her site I will feel much more accountable this go-round.
Do you need a networking challenge to push you out of your comfort zone? If so head over to Classy Career Girls' site and join us.