I spent a little time on my blog the other day griping about LinkedIN. I wanted them to add photos (still do), so it’d be even easier to connect with other people. So many times, we go to a conference or professional event, come home with a stack of business cards, and realize that we don’t really remember which face went with which name, and sometimes worse, which conversation to which name.
But while I wait for Reid Hoffman and team to implement my every wish (I want a pony!), here’s what I recommend might be a good hack for building your own networking toolbag to cement your relationships with interesting and engaging people. Please note: I don’t care if this is your corporate website or your personal website. If there are policies or red tape about getting a new page added, or doing things outside the box, circumvent this. Do things yourself and don’t wait for your company to support your professional networking needs.
Make an About Me / Contact Me Page
If you want an example, here’s mine. Note a few things about it: I have a picture of me (in fact, I have several pictures of me, because I never want someone to be at an event, see me, and not link the name to the face). Note also that I talk about things I’ve done of significance that might also remind you why you were reaching out to speak with me in the first place.
And then, the good stuff: look at the bottom where I list out a bunch of social networking and communications sites and what username I employ for all of them. This gives you easy-cheesy ways to reach out to me. I include my cell phone, my email address, and about a dozen places like Twitter, where you can connect.
Connect Beyond The Business Card
When you get home and enter in a bunch of business cards to your contact system, go further and seek out some of these people via the social networks. Check LinkedIN. Check Twitter. Check Flickr. See where you can find the people you found most interesting and engaging.
Linking and tying all these social systems together is still a fairly manual work. There are some neat companies out there taking a stab at it, like Wink, but I find that I’m still doing it the one-at-a-time manually.
Over the last year, I have helped two dozen people find jobs simply by strolling through my various social networks and remembering someone who had the same line of business as the person seeking the work. I’ve built a knack for knowing someone who knows someone who can answer the call. I find that by being more accessible, and by linking together all these online networks such that you find people in all their digital forms, you build a relationship tool suitable for helping people in the future.
Finding jobs is no longer about sending out resumes and reading big job search boards. Building prospect and customer lists isn’t just about buying names from large telemarketing vendors. Discovering people who do what you do and who are as passionate as you is an ACTIVE game, not a passive one. And it’s up to you to engage the right tools to get it done.
Have you done any of this on your own? Do you have a social networking success story? And if you HAVEN’T joined these kinds of networks yet, why not? We’d love to hear more.