If Megan Watt has her way, the term “networking” will soon become as obsolete as “VCR.” Networking, she says, just doesn’t adequately describe what she prefers to call “The Power of Connection” in today’s world.
It is about making new friends, keeping up with old ones, and helping any friend who needs it, she said at the April Social Media Breakfast Madison. “At its core, it is about giving,” she said.
Megan told the story of how, many years ago, she met a woman who volunteered at the ESPN X Games. Megan expressed a strong interest in doing the same and repeatedly followed up with her new friend until that chance connection led her to other connections that eventually allowed Megan to also become a volunteer at the X Games, an experience she will never forget.
“My number one lesson in networking is seize the moment,” she said. “And the second even more important skill in the Power of Connection is to follow up.”
To demonstrate just how powerful connections can, Megan asked for a volunteer in the audience to express his or her “Someday Goal.” Megan used a very large spool of green string to connect that person with another person in the room who had a similar interest or experience that might help her move closer to her Someday Goal.
Megan then asked the second person for his Someday Goal and asked if anyone in the room could help him with that goal. Someone raised his hand, and the string reached across the room to yet another connection. As the exercise went on, the Someday Goals ranged from writing a book, to starting a business, to building a home, to having a baby, to providing books to underprivileged children, to turning a hobby into a career. No matter what someone’s Someday Goal was, there was someone else in the room who could provide some insight or assistance. Soon the string was criss-crossing the room, demonstrating that there are always people in a room – maybe the person next to you – who may have the connections that will help you reach your goals.
“The Power of Connection is so real, and it helps you accomplish your Someday Goal,” she said.
Of course, in the digital age not all connections are made in person, and the top site for making online connections is LinkedIn. Megan walked her new friends through the basics of LinkedIn, and offered a series of insights and tips that included:
- Take the time to craft a high quality profile.
- Have an amazing headline. Make it unique. Let it be descriptive.
- Have a high quality headshot, not a selfie.
- Have a really good summary section, listing a lot of experiences.
“LinkedIn is your master resume,” Megan said. “You can easily make it your full digital portfolio.”
She recommended that you make your profile as public as possible because, after all, if you’re using LinkedIn you are trying to get yourself noticed.
Megan walked through the Alumni Tool, which allows you to find alumni from any university in any town and even find out what they are doing. If you are going to a conference, you can find out who is there from your university.
“The university is a strong connection for most people,” she said. When you reach out to someone from your university, you have an immediate familiarity with them. “You go from cold calling to warm calling,” she said.
“If I am going to get a call from a Florida State grad, I am going to say yes 99 percent of the time.”
Don’t be afraid to look at people’s profiles on LinkedIn, Megan said, even though they will be notified that you are looking. Typically, they are flattered. “Stalking on Facebook is called research on LinkedIn,” she said.
Megan also recommended that you join a lot of groups on LinkedIn (you can join up to 50) because that gives you direct access to a lot more people, and that after all is what it’s all about.
Written by Bill Hurley, (@billhurleymedia / billhurleymedia.com / beachmaniac.com) Editor, writer, social media strategist, website developer, digital publisher. BillHurleyMail@gmail.com, Bill@smbmad.org.
Facebook Photo Gallery (Photos by Paulius Musteikis):
Earlier, SMBMAD President Shane Cicero interviewed Megan on the SMBMAD Podcast: