Venturing off to networking events, making cold calls to prospective contacts, ping-ponging with the same via email and LinkedIn or other social media platforms—for many, these are sure-fire ways to bring on a weariness and the question of “what’s the point of this networking business?”
A more sustainable and effective approach to networking is to consider ways you can apply yourself in making your particular community better. To help your industry grow in stature or accomplishment. To help others.
One powerful way to do this is to develop and deliver a presentation on a timely, relevant topic at a professional association meeting or conference. Such an endeavor will undeniably take more of your time and effort than making a phone call or writing an email, but the pay-off (and no, I’m not talking greenbacks) can be enormous:
- You’ll get smarter. For starters, you might learn something new while putting your presentation together. This factor is not to be belittled. In fact, I suggest you choose a topic to present that’s outside your immediate wheel house that forces you to do discover something new. Doing so will not only widen your scope of knowledge, but it might lead you toward an area of interest (or skill) you didn’t know you had.
- You’ll seem smarter. Much of a networker’s success comes from being able to talk about something that’s relevant in the here and now. Your presentation will, hopefully, epitomize that! (Note: People love to know smart people.)
- The ice-breaker of ice-breakers. Your presentation will not only show that you’re deadly serious about the work you do, but its contents will reward you with an illustrious starting point to start chatting with any new contact you’ll acquire.
- The proverbial “bang for the buck”. You’ll reveal yourself as an asset to a swath of professionals all at once.
- A networker’s dream. You’ll make friends with leaders of the professional association, and these can be key “connectors” where networking is concerned.