There is ultimately no better way to start networking than to try it for real. The easiest way to do this to commence with the clients you already have, rather than to find new ones.
One highly beneficial task you can undertake at the outset is to map or chart your contacts. This mapping can be done in a number of ways.
Network Mapping Methods:
o Write a manual list of who you know and what they do
o Build an electronic database of contacts
o Keep a journal or diary of who you meet, where and when
o Draw (and keep updating) a contacts map
Mapping Your Network
Whilst you may eventually choose to adopt two, three or all of these methods, in the early stages it is the last of these options that is often the most helpful and potentially revealing.
A network map is simply drawn (using squares or circles). You start by putting your name in the centre of the page in a circle and commence drawing connecting lines to people you know, before drawing connecting lines from these people to others that they know.
This is very basic map demonstrates how a visual and dynamic chart can be created, which can help both to record quite complex data (and how it is related) and reveal possible avenues that were not obvious before.
One convention is recording four pieces of information for every contact in your network (apart from their name). These are their location, where or how you met and any other useful information that you think is relevant. Whilst this may seem a bit strange and unnecessary for close family and friends, it is remarkable how useful this will be as you build your network over time.
Don’t forget, these charts can be used three-dimensionally. When one side or part of it gets too big, transfer a major hub name to the centre of another chart and start to use all the new space you now have for extra contacts.
Copyright © 2006 Jonathan Farrington. All rights reserved