The Power of Loose Connections in Networking

Do you every think –“I’m really not crazy about going to that networking event. I don’t know any one and don’t need any more cheese in my heavily cheese-dibbled diet?” Me, too!

But, every once in a while, I’m reminded that social media shouldn’t be the end of my introverted networking adventures. I recently attended a great networking event in Portland specifically geared to the athletic and outdoor industry, and came away thinking just the opposite of my usual response. This time I thought, “I should do that more often.”

Here’s the set up.

Prosper Portland is a city-sponsored organization focused on building the Outdoor and Athletic industry in Portland. The Portland metro area already has many legendary brands such as Nike, Adidas, Columbia, and now Under Armour, which just opened their footwear headquarters here. Other well-known brands such as Keen and Nau started in Portland as well. Added to that energy are loads of new and growing startups and dreamers, sometimes comprised of veterans who left the bigger campuses and launched their own endeavors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check this cool interactive graphic for a snapshot of the A & O ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group recently hosted a celebration that brought together a group of young entrepreneurs who pitched their product, seeking funding for their dreams. You had to admire their passion and enthusiasm. It easily rubbed off on the 300 or so attendees.

Even with my 16 years at Nike, I was unsure if I would run into anyone I knew. But I was pleasantly surprised to see several familiar faces, and I ended up having a great time. I heard encouraging news from a couple of contacts about interesting work they are doing.

Loose connections in your network are the people that you know, but that you don’t necessarily deal with frequently. You probably have more people who are loose connections than tight connections. Hopefully, they have a positive impression of you and your work. These are the people that you worked with x-number of years ago or that you know from a professional association that you participate in. Loose connections are a great way of finding out about new projects, sharing job leads, and gaining insights you can only get from the inside.

For me, the Prosper A&O event turned out to be a great way to touch base with a few people I have loose connections with. All in all, it was a great chance to reconnect with people and forge some new friendships. Don’t discount the impact of loose networks! You can be a great resource for them and get up to speed on new activities in your industry.

Building Your Social Media Following

Okay, so this is a bit of a “me, too” post — it seems like everyone and their brother is telling you how to get better at social media marketing. I’ve been active with social media for about four years, and I’ve learned a few things. Mostly, I’ve found that, like everything else worthwhile, it takes time and focused effort.

Guy Kawasaki recently posted a new presentation on “How to Get More Followers.” With nearly 1.4 million Twitter followers and 391,900 LinkedIn followers, Guy has earned considerable credibility on this topic. His presentation included some useful techniques and ideas that are worth sharing, so here’s a summary:

1. Start yesterday. You’re already behind. Get busy.
2. Segment the services. The various social media services have different functions and connections. You can think of the functions this way:

 

3. Make a great profile. Look at other profiles for clues, and keep yours sharp and up-to-date.
4. Curate content and link to fresh new ideas.
5. Cheat—seriously, that is what he said! The cheat is to link to, re-tweet, and re-post content that is trending.
6. Restrain yourself. 95% of your posts should be interesting topics and ideas that you want to share. Just 5% of your posts should be self-promotion.
7. Add bling. Not just pictures of your favorite cat, but images that add interest and capture the imagination, giving life to your message.
8. Respond. This is a two-way conversation. You’ve put out a new idea, now interact so they know you are real.
9. Stay positive or stay silent. One colleague of mine said “it’s easy to be snarky in 140 characters.” But it really does not add to your followers, your message or well-being, so stay on the sunny side.
10. Repeat. It was good the first time, so now ‘”lather, rinse and repeat.” Keep it light so that you can keep up the pace.

Want more? Get the full recording here.