In Professional Networking 101, Adam Braatz of postmilitarypro.com shares insights and experiences related to professional network development — usually while traversing to/from a networking connection.
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Episode 1: High Volume Network Development
In order to develop a large, diverse, organically-grown network, one must sustain a high level of activity. But just how high is “high?”
As you approach the transition from your military to your civilian career, it is imperative that you begin developing your network. Who should you meet with and when? What should your approach be? Adam shares his views on high volume network development in this first installment of the Professional Networking 101 series. See below for the full transcript.
Hi there! Adam Braatz here, postmilitarypro.com, I’m a big fan, I’m a big proponent of high-volume networking. And you should be too. If you are job-seeking, career-hunting, if you’re new to a city, new to a region, new to a career field, or if you’re looking to just expand your network because you’re in sales, business development, fund development, any of those things and everywhere in-between, your network is gonna be your bread and butter.
It’s so important that you have a large, diverse, organically grown network. And by organically grown, I mean you’re not going to LinkedIn and clicking “Connect” with everyone you can see, that’s not it. That’s not an organically grown network, that’s not gonna help you. So, what is high volume networking? Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ll tell you. It is exactly how it sounds, you’re just meeting with a lot of people. And in the last five months, I personally have met with over 200 folks. That’s an average of over 10 meetings a week. It’s a lot of coffee, it’s a lot of lunch meetings, but it is essential that you keep up a high level of activity to expand your network.
Bottom line is, the more people you meet with, the larger your network is gonna grow. And there are a couple of rules of thumb. One, meet with anyone and everyone, even if you don’t see any sort of strategic value to meeting with them. You never know where strategic value is gonna come from. You could meet with someone where there’s no business opportunity, but they have five friends that they can connect you with once you become pals, that there is a business opportunity with, so you never know where that’s gonna come from. Never turn down a meeting. And never avoid scheduling a meeting with someone just ’cause you don’t think there’s a chance you can get something from them. Don’t be that person.
And along those lines of “don’t be that person”, in your first meeting, go in with no agenda other than you are getting to know them. You have no sales agenda, you have no fundraising agenda, you don’t want anything from them, other than them giving you the courtesy of their time. And answering your questions, and you can ask for advice, “who should I meet with? “I’m new to this area. “Who do you think I should connect with? “What’s there to do in this city?” You can ask questions and ask for advice, and I suggest that you do, but no agenda items, you don’t want anything from any of these people that you are meeting with, when you’re just trying to grow your network. This is a very long-range vision, you are planting seeds that you’ll reap the benefit of and harvest later. But not right now, OK?
So, get out there, network at a high volume, which is gonna mean different things to different people, given your flexibility and your autonomy at work, obviously, but get out there. Meet with as many people as you can, ask questions, be positive, and you will notice down the road, your network will grow exponentially, organically, in the right way. And you’ll see the benefits from that. So get out there and have some coffee. Or tea, whatever. Alright, have a great day, and yeah, see you later.