(Written by Patrick Crawley)
The fastest way to grow your network is to connect with powerful connecters. Most of these connecters tend to be high-status people - so how do you get in touch with them?
Giving your time, knowledge, network, and ideas, is the best way to connect with successful networkers, which means the fastest way to grow your network and advance your career is to focus on giving.
As Keith Ferrazzi says, "You have to assume the person you're trying to reach does not want to meet you." This means that you have to offer something valuable enough for this person to let their guard down and spend time with you.
Think about this now: Rather than thinking about what you can gain from building a relationship with your network, start thinking about how you can improve the lives of your network.
Networking is the new certainty in life, so start learning now.
Benjamin Franklin once said the only two certainties in life are "death and taxes." I propose that there are two more - delivering presentations and dealing with people. No matter where you go, you are giving presentations at school, at work, and at home. Throughout your life you will always need to deal with people whether at home, work or in public. Networking is both presenting and dealing with people. Once you acknowledge and accept this, why not start investing now to become better at it?
Know your value.
With any networking scenario, there will be give and take. Many people, especially youth, don't realize what value they can provide. Every person has value and it comes from your experiences, your energy and enthusiasm, your personality and your contacts. Beyond that, you should get comfortable with knowing your personal brand and elevator pitch. Take the time to understand what you bring to the table. Remember that networking is not just "I want to meet you," but also, "I want you to meet me."
Everyone is a bridge.
We forget that every single person we meet can be a bridge to someone else. Perhaps that cashier has an uncle who works at the company you have targeted for a new job. I have discovered opportunities from random meetings in an elevator, subway seat, and a New Year's Eve party. Know that you can network anywhere, anytime, with anyone!