How to Expand Your Professional Network

“It’s all about who you know.”

How many times have you heard that one?

I used to hate that phrase because it came across as very disingenuous to me. It reminded me of politics, which by its very nature frustrates me because it is the business of people who know each other gathering behind closed doors to make deals without focusing on the issues or what people really want. The reality is that everything that we do revolves around the people who we surround ourselves with, which like everything else, can be used for good or evil.

Business is about managing relationships with the right partners, the right vendors, the right talent and the right customers, so knowing the right people is critical.

Surrounding yourself with the right people means continually making new connections while managing old ones. Too many people go about making new connections in the wrong way. Although having the right people in your arsenal is essential to creating opportunities through those relationships, the point of all of this, in my opinion, is to give before you get.

LinkedIn is one of the worst places for running into people who are offensive in their professional network expansion efforts. How many times have you received a LinkedIn message that looks something like this:

“I’m reaching out to you because I’ve found that as my LinkedIn network has grown, so have my personal and professional opportunities. If we connect directly, you might experience the same benefits yourself. With that in mind, I would welcome the chance to “link in” with you. If you’d like to expand your professional network, please go to my LinkedIn profile.”

This strategy is ridiculous and entirely superficial. The above request for connection references no common ground that I have with this person. Why would we want to know each other? Are we in the same industry? Alumni of the same institution of higher education? Do we possess similar career goals? Who knows! How do I know that his connections would benefit me in some way? I don’t. How does he know that my connections would benefit him? This person is offering to share his connections with me in exchange for mine, but is making zero effort to get to know me. This is completely meaningless because if one of my contacts were to ask me for a reference on him I would have absolutely nothing to say because there is no relationship there.

According to Socialnomics, people care more about how their social graph ranks a product/service than how Google ranks them. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that when you become the item being purchased, people will view you more favorably if their network does. However, if someone in my social graph asks me about a person that I’ve made a blind LinkedIn connection with, I have nothing to say because I don’t know anything about him. As far as my network is concerned, he is simply spam or extra noise.

There has to be a better way to meet people with mutual professional interests in a meaningful and sincere way, right? I’m talking about meeting new people randomly that you might not otherwise interface with, but with whom you can lay the groundwork for a meaningful professional friendship.

Welcome to Network Roulette. The folks at Brazen Careerist have once again proven that they have our best professional interests at heart with the launch of this new tool.  Network Roulette is online speed networking where users are randomly matched with other professionals after answering two simple questions: “What are you looking for?” and “What are you providing?” Participants have up to three minutes to engage in a text chat to determine if the person that they are matched with is someone who they would like to continue conversing with. If the brief conversation is useful, users can connect on the site and follow-up with each other to continue the conversation.

Take a look:

The best part about this? Two dreaded scenarios are avoided. You can expand your professional network without getting stuck in the corner of a networking event with someone talking your ear off about all things irrelevant and you have complete control over your location and wardrobe choices. Network Roulette allows you to meet the right people and have the right conversations from anywhere in the world, building a foundation for a substantial and meaningful business relationship.

It is no secret that I’ve always found a ton of value in my membership in the Brazen Careerist community, but there have been times where I’ve found myself looking for a way to connect with more folks in the community, especially those that I wouldn’t normally run into during conversations happening in the networks where I am most active. Network Roulette has satisfied that craving and more. If you do nothing else to expand your network, participate in at least one session of Network Roulette right away.

More info is available by watching this cool video, or by logging into your account on Brazen Careerist. See you there!

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