1. Hit refresh . . . , 2. network in small ways . . . .
1. The easiest connection to make is one already have. With the best of intentions people who say that they are happy to help you will forget about you and what you talked about over time, so pinging them with a brief email or call to say hello or give an update periodically brings you back to top of mind with much less effort than you’d expend in meeting someone new and establishing a relationship. Along the same lines, deepening existing relationships can be as valuable as forming new ones: do all of the people you spend time with know enough about you to be able to direct information or opportunities you’d be interested in your way?
2. If you can’t do a lot of networking then do a little. If becoming a major schmoozer is just too much, or you just don’t have time, just do a little at a time. A little networking is better than nothing. If spending three or four hours at a networking event seems overwhelming why not just tell yourself you will go for an hour and see what happens? Or give yourself modest but achievable networking goals like meeting two new people per week, but stick to it.
3. Network continuously, not just when need a new job or when work is slow. A little networking done consistently, yields better results than mounting a major campaign then flaming out, or doing nothing. Start attending a meeting in person every month rather than calling in, or make a habit of sending LinkedIn requests after meeting someone new, or just gather all the piles of business cards you’ve collected in one place and enter them in your address book, everything helps.
4. Take a broad view of “networking.” Networking is equally effective, maybe more, when it doesn’t seem like networking. For example: stop to say hello and introduce yourself to someone you routinely smile at then walk past, take a class, if you are on a committee offer to take on a small project that involves contacting people you don’t know or don’t know well, volunteer. The more people you meet in any capacity the better your chances of having a connection pay off for you.
5. Get online. Create a Linkedin profile (or update it). You can upload your resume to create a LinkedIn profile in minutes. Facebook isn’t the best way to connect professionally but you can go through your Facebook friends and send LinkedIn invites to people you want to have a professional relationship with. There are more than 2,000 Law Building alums in the UC Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall group on LinkedIn. Boalt’s AlumNetwork is also a great way to locate and connect with former classmates.