Effortless Networking: Building Your Network from "scratch"

Sri Dasgupta
 


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For the first 15 years of my professional life, I lived and worked in the same town.

Then, I moved every year for 3 years in a row!

Disruptive as it was, I learned a great deal from that experience.

One of the things I learned was how to quickly establish myself, professionally and otherwise, in a new location and community.

Although I figured it out incrementally, through trial and error, it has now become a very simple formula.

I've relocated recently, and of course, this is what I'll use to rebuild my network again!

So here is my 3 step “formula":

  1. Figure out what would make you feel “grounded" or established.

    For me this means getting to know at least a couple of people in the local business community. Or joining at least one group in which I might get a sense of “belonging" right away.

    This makes me feel “grounded" because I know that I can meet other people through them.

    So I usually look up the local Chamber of Commerce, search for associations for women business owners, a local chapter of my professional association, and so on.

    From a personal perspective, I like to know whether there's a place nearby to go dance Argentine Tango!

    I also look for kid-related stuff - playgroups, childrens activities and programs, childcare options, etc.

    For me, just *knowing* that these options exist in my new location is comforting. So I search for all this before the move. In fact, I've already done this for my upcoming move!

  2. Find and engage in at least one of these things.

    For me this means that once I arrive at my new location, I start checking out and showing up at each of these organizations or events.

    The first time I did this, I thought I'd feel awkward or uncomfortable showing up alone.

    Well, sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't.

    Looking back, I realized that whenever I was genuinely curious, I NEVER felt uncomfortable or awkward.

    I had so many questions and was so focused on finding out the answers to my questions, there was no time to feel awkward!

    So when you start checking out your new community, take your questions with you and show up with genuine curiosity. It will serve you well on many levels.

  3. Make at least one “friend", and build your new community from there.

    As soon as I meet someone whom I “click" with, I get his or her contact information and ask if we can talk again soon.

    From this person, I find out more about the organization or event where we met, other people in the community, specific information or regulations about running a business in that town, and any other questions that pop into my head. . .

    Anyway, during our conversation, based on the kinds of questions I ask or the interest that I express, it becomes quite apparent to the person I'm talking with, whom else in the community or organization I should meet.

    And my new “friend" usually makes these introductions, sometimes without my even asking for it.

    So I get to meet other people, and start building my new community, through this one person (very effortlessly, you might say).

The best part is that this person usually does end up becoming a true friend. I'm still in touch with my first friends from all the different places where I've lived.

(c) Copyright 2006, Srirupa Dasgupta

Sri Dasgupta helps business professionals get better results from their business networking efforts through focused and relevant conversations. She is the author of the Effortless Networking , and writes regular articles offering business networking tips and related resources.

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