FullSizeRenderAvid readers of Zen will know that one of my favorite topics is networking. So I was immediately drawn to read J. Kelly Hoey‘s new book, Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships in a Hyper-Connected World, when Mark Beese recommended it in his latest newsletter. I’ve been following Kelly since the early days of Twitter, so her name was also familiar to me, though not her story. She started her career as a lawyer in Toronto, and has wandered a fascinating path since then. Her book jacket tells us that:

J. Kelly Hoey is a writer, investor, connector, and networking expert, lauded everywhere from Forbes (“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship”) to Fast Company (“25 Smartest Women on Twitter”). A columnist for Inc.com, she’s appeared on CNBC’s Power Pitch, and her clients include The New Yorker, Coca-Cola, PBS, L’Oréal, Capital One, and Dove.”

Using her own experiences, as well as sharing direct interviews with other successful friends and peers, Kelly illustrates how to build and leverage various networks, and what works and what doesn’t when it comes to networking. Whether you love to network, view it as a necessary evil, or can’t understand why you need to do anything besides work hard at your chosen profession to get more work, this book is for you. Let’s talk a little bit about what Kelly has to say about networking, and then run, do not walk, to buy this book (available in hard copy and electronic). 

Networking is a four-letter word

daria-shevtsova-57340At this point, we’re probably all sick of hearing about networking (in this post alone, I’ve mentioned it too many times already). Kelly herself says that she wishes there was a better way to describe the “activities we undertake to connect and strengthen our relationships with other people.”

Because that’s all that networking really is, right?

Whether you’re doing it in person or online, all networking is about further engaging with people. You are “weaving online and offline interactions into an integrated networking whole.”

But it’s really not all bad. And it turns out that you’re already doing it all the time. There are three things that Kelly says she knows about networking (and I’m paraphrasing here):

  • It must be done constantly.
  • You can control what you put into it, but not what you get out of it.
  • It’s happening all the time.

If you’ve ever heard a story about someone chatting to another parent at their child’s soccer match, only to find out that that person is the in-house counsel at a big corporation, who happens to be looking for a new lawyer, you’ll know that relationship development, business development, or networking (whatever you want to call it), is happening all the time.

That’s why I’ve often said here too that everything you do is about your brand – from the way you shake hands to how your receptionist answers the phone to how consistently you answer emails to the way you treat the barista at the coffee shop – all of those things, big and small, add up to tell people who you are.

And why does that matter?

It’s not what you know, it’s who knows what you know

I know there are a number of lawyers out there who really lament the idea that it’s not enough to just be excellent at your practice. But unfortunately, that’s true.

You can be the best at what you do, but if no one knows about it, no one can hire you.

Kelly says:

[T]he new question is not what you know but Who knows what you know?”

And:

When you know people, and those people know what you do, success knows how to find you.”

This should all sound familiar to you, because it’s the same thing you’ve always been doing – using your word of mouth reputation. But we add in online interactions now too. Kelly talks about both sides of this:

[There’s] increased importance of human capital and personal connections. That capital comes in the form of trusted relationships…same as it always has!

The big difference now is that we turn instinctively to those close, trusted relationships with a click, using technology as the intermediary for our most important (and sometimes intimate) asks.”

Networking is about connecting and balancing all of those relationships, both online and off, to properly leverage them depending on your needs at any given moment.

So where do you start? The good news is that most of you already have the tools, and the networks, in place. Kelly talks about looking at them in new ways to address where you need to fill in gaps, and how to focus them for specific goals. There are a couple of key things she talks about early on with respect to networking.

What you should know about networking

Now that we’ve hopefully convinced you that networking is not this awful thing (interestingly, too, most of the success stories in Kelly’s book come from self-described introverts – like me! – showing that however comfortable or uncomfortable you are with the idea of networking, it’s possible to make it work for you), and that it’s essential to practice success, let’s look at a couple of important things before you head off to buy and read this book.

  • You need to set specific goals first. We talk about goal setting regularly here at Zen, for pretty much anything you’re doing – content marketing, events networking, social networking, etc. If you want to get the most out of your networking, you need to have goals in place so that you know what you want to achieve and why.
  • It’s about the people. That’s something else we talk a lot about here at Zen, and Kelly addresses it too. When you want to network with key audiences, you have to make it about them (surprise, surprise!). Who are they? How do THEY want to engage? Where are they?
  • It’s all about consistency. I’m adding this one in because I think it is one of the most forgotten about pieces of networking in this world of instant gratification:

    This is another unsexy part about networking: consistent actions produce results more often than serendipitous encounters with a dream client on an airplane. Think sit ups: consistency is where the networking commitment hits the road to networked success.”

Since networking is happening all the time, and everywhere, there’s no better time than RIGHT NOW to read Kelly’s book and start putting into practice some of the ideas to build your dream networks!