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The 7-step network start-up short cut

Networking is the best way to find work. I don’t just mean employment. (But it is true that referrals lead to the best jobs.) You’re working any time you’re trying to achieve something you care about.
Last month, one of my networks led to an invitation aboard HMS Richmond. I’m already planning work with someone I met there.
You can learn networking skills. But here is the short cut to starting a network that can help your work.

1. Find your big idea

What do you care most about in your work? What is your work meant to accomplish for others? Do you have a cause? What are you desperate to change? Write this down. And learn how to say it out aloud!

2. Work out why it’s so important to you

What makes you care so much about your goal? What would happen if you achieved your goal? What would happen if your big idea died? What could make your big idea die?

3. Plan what needs to happen in an ideal world

What would it take to make your big idea stick and spread? Be radical. Remember, this is about ideals. Don’t let past experiences limit your ambition.

4. Decide what you’re prepared to pay

Achieving something important will cost you time, money, and energy. Will it be worth it? What would you sacrifice to make your big idea stick and spread?

5. List those who care, and those who should care

Start building a list of people, organisations, and communities. It’ll be a long list. And you won’t know them all. Keep adding names to the list. And include detractors.

6. Find out where they are

For each member of your list, think of places where they meet. Do they mix online or offline? Are their relationships formal or informal? Look for diversity. Familiar places are filled with familiar faces.

7. Ask how you can take part

It sounds easy and obvious. But think about this. Would you try to help or hinder someone who asked you how to join on of your networks? Be prepared for the obvious answers, though. What do you know about their big ideas? What have you got to give that will help them? What useful information can you share? You could give a presentation or a talk that answers their pressing questions in 20 minutes. Or, you might write a 600-word article for their journal or newsletter.
The most worthwhile jobs are usually tough to start with. Getting the right help makes them easier. For example, part of my work is to stop cheats. Trust me, it’s a tough job! And it’ll take time. The law can’t do it alone. But the networks I and others are building can help a lot.

The briefing and tour aboard HMS Richmond was just one of many networking events for me this summer. Captain Mike Walliker and his crew showed us how efficient and valuable the Royal Navy warship is. It’s helpful to review how government spends our defence budget.

At the same time, I met some great people. I’m already working with one of them. The briefing and tour took two hours. But it was well worth it for me. The invitation didn’t come from one of my security contacts. Rather, it was a marketing friend. Surprising? Or, just diverse?

Request for links to great networkers

Who should be on my links page? Add a reply below with your suggestions. I’ll add Stuart Lindenfield. He wrote the book on Confident Networking. And I was lucky enough to work with him at Reed Consulting.