Networking With Purpose

After a brief literary detour, I’ve finally returned to my favorite genre — career/self-help — with Megan Hustad’s How To Be Useful.

The book is thus far sporadically useful in itself, but I did find two especially interesting tips worth mentioning in its chapter on networking and “the Master Mind.”

After the jump, make the most of networking events, connecting with the people who can help you eventually take over the world! (or some such thing)

1. Attend all networking events with a specific purpose in mind.

I’ll admit it. I’m the sort of networker who attends such events with the idea that I might meet someone interesting … someone with similar passions … someone who might be able to help me but — on the other hand — might not … and that’s okay! I’m the sort of networker who doesn’t know what, exactly, she’s hoping to accomplish and, as a probable result, usually just ends up hugging the wall with an overpriced glass of wine in hand, before leaving with several business cards she may or may not refer back to.

Hustad’s findings show that a networking event can be a worthwhile endeavor indeed … as long as you have an MO. If you show up with a specific goal — find someone who works at a company you’d like to be a part of … and get yourself an informational interview; find a copywriter you can pair up with on web design projects; find writers interested in guest blogging on your site — you’ll be better able to target people as you work the room, and actually leave later that evening having accomplished something.

Reminiscent of the Secret? Perhaps, but I’d be interested in hearing about what you’d like to accomplish, and then seeing you go out and get it.

2. Surround yourself with people who can help you.

How To Be Useful goes so far as to discuss the Master Mind, a construct by Napoleon Hill in which you create a group of people dedicated to furthering the interests of those within the group.

Ideally, those you choose for your group are superior to you in varying ways, whether in intellect, talent, access to contacts, etc.

It reminds me of that writer’s group I was a part of a few years ago. The lot of us were incredibly different in our talents and resources, but we were all interested in magazine publishing, and narrative journalism, and had met through a class at the New School. One of us had a portfolio filled with travel guides. Another had a passion for research, and worked at The Village Voice. Another had been a chef, and was interested in food writing and recipe development. I was a sex writer with a book publishing background. Together, we helped each other out with tightening pitches, suggesting possible publications, sharing sources, providing motivation, etc. Each of us had something the others didn’t have.

It makes sense to surround yourself with those who have something you lack and need, and networking events are certainly ideal places to find such people. If I could create my own collective, it would include someone with a knack for self-marketing, several people entrenched within the magazine world, a former (and incredibly successful) professor of mine who was always generous with both contacts and advice, my husband, who helps me with web and blog design…

Who would you have in your collective? What characteristics would you look for in others, and which resources do you long to have access to?

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