Networking for fun and profit

2008-04-28 13:36:00

Until recently I used to hate networking, the perceived obligation to talk business with people whom I had no interest in. Over the past year or so a realisation has been growing in me though: networking is something that happens automatically, to a certain degree. And you can make the parts that need to happen consciously as fun as they need to be.

Example 1: Like many young folks in IT I hated the idea of networking and actually tried to avoid it. I reckoned that I had no network whatsoever and didn't care about it that much either. However, after eight years of working in IT I realised that I -do- have a network and that it's rather expansive! My friend/colleague Deborah recently nudged me to get onto Linked In and I managed to map out a large part of my network with minor effort. That's 150 names right there, that I can tap into if I ever need help with my job, a technical question, or whatever. In case you're curious, here's my profile.

So yes, everyone has a network. Even you. All the people you have worked with, or for? Network! All the friends you made at that IT conference? Network! And so on...

Example 2: Sometimes you stumble upon stuff that peaks your interest. Case in point, I recently poked around in and wrote a review about Ephorus. The product is Europe's leading anti-plagiarism software and both the teacher and the sysadmin in me got curious as to its workings. I managed to get my hands on a trial account (not normally given to students) and tried it out. I liked it well enough.

Then a few days later followed an e-mail from their directory, asking if I'd like to come in for a talk. We had a great chat this morning, about Ephorus, about my work, about their work and just stuff in general. I had a great time and I even got a few -very- helpful suggestions that could help my career in the near future.

So you see? Networking consists of two things: the stuff you do every single day and just shooting the breeze with people you don't know. The third part, the obligational marketing talks to possible customers, I'll leave to the sales folks ~_^ tags: , , ,

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