Artisan Creative is celebrating 20+ years in staffing and recruitment of creative professionals. Over the years we’ve learned a thing or two that we’d like to share with you. We hope you enjoy the 423rd issue of our weekly a.blog.
To build a network, you want to be simultaneously interested in the people around you, the things they do and need, and the ideas that drive them. Great minds are, in fact, very interested in other people!
Here are some guiding principles to help you build a new network—or expand an existing one—of people who can help you along your personal and professional journey.
Set Your Intention
Before you set out to do anything, put some thought into what you’re looking for in creating new connections. Set a clear intention, and use that intention to guide your behavior.
Make sure your goals are realistic, attainable, and thoughtful. Start with a goal that’s easy to hit and build from there. For example, if you’re attending a conference with the goal of learning something new, add an additional goal of meeting 2-3 new people within your industry during your time there.
Setting the right intention will guide all of your actions when building your network.
Do Your Research
Part of setting your intention is determining who you want to add to your network. Perhaps there’s a specific company you want to work for or a specific person you’d like to call on for advice. What types of professionals do you envision as your mentors and collaborators?
With your intention established, begin your research. Where do these people congregate to share their ideas and experiences? Are they online on Linkedin groups or do they meet in person at Meetups or industry conferences? What are they passionate about and where do they access information that matters to them? Where do your own skills and interests intersect with their values and needs?
Most importantly, what specific discussions and content would potentially help the people in your network?
Reciprocity is the principle that governs all professional relationships. You can only expect others to treat you with as much respect as you offer. Approach all networking as an opportunity to help others.
Determine the issues that challenge others in your wider network and devise creative ways to solve them. Instead of asking for favors, pitch ideas as possible solutions. Offer value without expecting anything in return, and over time you will become someone that others will want to add to their network too!
It’s essential that your desire to help be genuine. Too many eager networkers try too hard to seem helpful when they’re really out for themselves. This erodes both trust and patience and discourages people from willing to partner with you.
Be a Connector
If you follow these principles, you will meet more people than you are able to help on your own. As this happens, introduce them to other people in your network who are better positioned to help and may have the skills you lack.
By making effective introductions, author James Altucher has built a network that includes leaders in technology, business, and the arts, many of whom he has interviewed on his successful podcast. He describes his method as becoming a “super-connector.”
To preserve the value of your relationships, follow the rules behind another Altucher concept, “Permission Networking.” That is, don’t introduce two people unless you’ve cleared it with both of them and you know it will add value to both of their lives and careers.
Building a network should be an extension of your own work and life as well as add value for everyone involved. It doesn’t have to involve activities that you aren’t comfortable doing.
If you don’t attend networking events, you can just as easily use these principles to build relationships by networking online. Author Derek Coburn jokes that “networking events are the nightclubs of the professional world”—they can be useful and fun, but they’re not for everyone — and says that “Networking 3.0” happens online.
You’ll have an easier time building a network if you’re in your element, doing what you do best, stretching yourself, and helping others in a way that also works for you.
Use Your Resources
You can achieve explosive growth in your networking efforts if you plug into large and existing networks, such as the one we’ve spent years building here at Artisan Creative. Connect with us to discover how we can all help each other thrive.