Posted by: G. Lane Cavalier | April 26, 2007

Networking: Non-Traditional Networking – Part 5

This is Part 5 of a ?? Part Series on Non-Traditional Networking Ideas:  (PS – The ?? exist because I have no clue as to how many parts there will be I currently have 9 outlined, but keep thinking of new one’s everyday)

**** Develop Multiple Channels *******

I often try to equate a lot of my networking philosophy to business terms, hence the use of the word Channels.

Developing Multiple Channels is a fancy way of saying you need to have multiple feeders for your network.  It’s actually quite simple when you think about it, if all your network contacts come from the same networking group you have limited value to those network contacts. 

If someone asks me to help them find a C# programmer and my only channel is say Network A, then what it effectively means is that the odds are great that the person asking me is from Network A and the person I’m going to pass it on to is from Network A.

The benefits come from finding one of my Network B buddies for a Network A request, or similar to that.  For the sake of argument, I think you should have a minimum of 5 target areas in which to develop channels:

1) Geographic Networks:

Geographic networks include a great cross section of people who live or work in your area.  These networks can be online or local networks targeted at professionals in general.  Other areas like chamber of commerce or similar gatherings can give you access to these networkers.

2) Industry/Occupation Specific Networks:

These networks can either be cultivated during the course of you business or may be set up as either networks or user groups.  Trade shows and product launch parties are other ways to increase this network presence.

3) Restricted/Barrier to Entry Networks:

These networks generally have a cost or qualification that makes the barrier to entry limited to people with certain skill sets.  Online pay networks and similar areas of membership or the most common form, though things like Country Clubs and Health Clubs would qualify under the broad definition.

4) Close Personal Networks:

These networks consist of the people you deal with, see, or spend time with on a daily or weekly basis.  They may include family, friends, parents of your children’s friends, your hair dresser, dentist, doctors,  owners/employers of business you frequent often, the bartender at your favorite tavern, etc.

5) Common Interest:

These networks consist of people you meet during you activities of interest, they include golf buddies, reading clubs, scrap-booking groups, online hobby forums, etc.  This is one of the areas that are most often overlooked.  I happen to know a Marketing Executive who is big into playing the bass guitar, I wonder if anyone in that walk of her life ever really considers asking her about her “day” job. :).  I also know a owner of a biometric security distribution company who plays and sings in a classic rock band, same question applies.

 So look at your network, do you have multiple channels represented effectively.  If you don’t, consider some diversification of your networking portfolio.

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