Warming-up to My Network – Professional Internet Dating

January 26, 2009

Running a recruiting desk for the past several years gave me a great opportunity to develop a very broad network.  I utilized many resources for no other reason than to network.  As I entered my career search I realized that much of the network I had created was about breadth, not depth.

Let me explain using LinkedIn.com as an example.  When my career search began I had very close to 2,000 direct connections which gave me a huge network of people with whom I could communicate on LinkedIn.  However, of those 2,000 people there were less than 50 who I could pick up the phone and call to share the news of my career search.  Less than 50 who cared a lick.

There are several reasons for that, one being most of the professionals working in my niche at the time were not on LinkedIn.  Historically, they are one of the last groups to join new web based trends.  Another real reason is that my LinkedIn network was designed as a way to attract new, fresh faces into my network in hopes that expanding the breadth would allow me to source more candidates.  Since I only conducted one search in the St. Louis market in 2 years developing a local network was not a priority.

Now I needed a new type of network.  One with heart.  One with depth.  One with local focus.  How could I leverage my current resources (breadth of connections) to create more beneficial resources?  The answer became clear as I search LinkedIn looking for people in the St. Louis area who shared some commonality with.  Did we go to school together?  Are we part of the same groups, or could we be?  Do we live in the same town?

LinkedIn does not encourage connecting with people you don’t know so reaching out to these people is a bit tricky.  It’s almost like internet dating.  As I browsed the personals and want ads.  Sincerely, I looked through LinkedIn’s “groups” for those that were based on locality to St. Louis.  I was fortunate enough to find a group specifically for Wentzville, MO Professionals started by Greg Younger.  Read Greg’s Blog.

Here is the hard part folks.  You can only let the computer do so much of the work.  It will help you get wide but you’ll have to risk a little to get deep.  I sent Greg a not asking if he’d like to go grab a cup of coffee and network.  Greg promptly agreed that we should meet.  He also shared some information about his motives for starting the LinkedIn group which revolve around helping the Wentzville City Parks & Recreation Department raise money to improve the facilities and has evolved into The Friends of the Wentzville Parks.  We’re accepting donations now, but more on that later.

All of this has been easy.  We’ve not met yet.  Now get out the shovel because we’ve got to make this network DEEP.  When Greg and I met we each took some chances in sharing our stories. Greg about the Friends of the Wentzville Parks.  By the way, because he took a leap of faith in sharing his passion on the subject and openly asked me to help he gained a board member for the new group.  I shared with Greg my Go-Giver story up that point and we have truly found common ground in developing a Go-Giver spirit.

Since that first meeting, Greg and I have met several more times in several different settings.  Each time our network gets stronger.  That’s right.  Each time he and I met our network gets stronger….Because it gets DEEPER.  It’s not that we necessarily meet new people each time but when you know someone a little better, nourished that relationship a little more; tend that little plant growing from the small seed you planted.  When you do that.  When you give more VALUE (law 1) to that person in the form of AUTHENTIC (law 4) you and they do the same allowing you to RECEIVE (law 5).  As I know more about Greg I am able to understand his interests and better place them first (law 3). Your network gets DEEPER and stronger creating more wealth generating opportunities (law 2).

Who do you need to give some AUTHENTICITY to?
What VALUE does your network get from you?
When do you make it a point to INFLUENCE people by placing their interests first?
Where are you looking for new COMPENSATION?
Why do we struggle with balance in our desire and willingness to RECEIVE?

Jason R. Thomas

Jason R. Thomas

If you’ve been reading this blog for 5 days or 5 minutes scroll on down to the bottom left of the page and hit “RSS feed” to keep tabs on me.  Or scroll up to the top of the page and do the same.

Also, I invite comments.  My effort is really to share my experience, my Experiment in giving.  Without input from the world it’s hard to know if there’s an impact to the reader (YOU).

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