OK, sorry about that subject line. I don’t really know if you suck at networking or not. But we can all get better at it, and I’d wager that 90% of us really do ‘suck’ at it.
But I know some people do, because I get email on a regular basis asking me to do something for someone who I don’t even know. Now I don’t mind that when it comes to questions about project management or the PMP exam, etc. I actively seek these questions from the pmStudent community.
But I do get lots of requests from other companies asking me for a link to their site, promote what they are doing, review their book or software, etc.
I don’t even know these people!
That’s A Problem
If the first time someone interacts with you, you are asking them for something, that’s not a great start.
This is especially true when you are networking.
Networking Is A Process, Not An Event
Too many people see networking as something you do when you are looking for a job. That is soooo wrong.
The goal of networking is to build a relationship with people by being likable and helping them get what they want. When you do this consistently over time, the relationships you build will be available if and when you need them. Referrals, mentoring, encouragement and support, you name it.
P.S. I’d be lying if I said I do this without fault. There are many relationships in my network I’ve let atrophy because I haven’t been consistent enough in reaching out to them. This is a good reminder to myself to get busy.