Creating Contacts 101

Ronni writes in to ask:

Dear Working Girl,

*SIGH*  I keep seeing the contacts thing.  But for someone who is new to a city and has no contacts, then what?  How does one get contacts?

Dear Ronni,

Good question!  Yeah, it does seem impossible to get to know people when you’re in a new and strange place.  But guess what?  No one was born with contacts.  Everyone who has contacts has had to create them for themselves.  And you can, too.

Here’s what Working Girl did when she moved to Paris.  She started with the name of one person, a friend of a friend of a friend.  She called that person and asked to speak with her about possible freelance writing opportunities.  At the end of the talk, she asked for names of other people she could contact. 

Rinse.  Repeat. 

I know.  It seems so simple.  But it can be hard to get started.  (Hint: It gets easier the more you do it.)

That first person never hired Working Girl, but did pass her name on to someone else, who did give her an assignment.  It didn’t happen overnight.  But it happened.

You can also build a network by taking classes and seminars, showing up at trade shows, attending lectures and art exhibits, joining civic groups and political parties, volunteering to work for worthy causes, and going to professional association meetings, networking luncheons, class reunions, sporting events, conferences, parties, church, job fairs, and the gym.

Keep a database of everyone you meet and keep in touch with them!  That means renew the contact from time to time (at least once a year). 

Important:  Please remember you’re not just collecting names.  You are forming real connections.  This means showing sincere interest in them as human beings. 

You can do this by introducing them to others you think they might like, sending them clippings that might interest them, remembering them with a note from time to time, donating to their causes, referring business to them, meeting for coffee, and on and on. 

All in a friendly, non-stalkerish way, of course!

Start with three people.  Just three.  And see where it takes you…….

6 Comments

  • Ronni says:

    Karen,

    Thanks for answering my question! All good advice. :)

  • A Reader says:

    Excellent advice for anyone.

  • This is great advice. It’s true that networking can be a bit awkward, but it does get easier as you do it more. Also, good point about these being people, not just contacts! If you’re going to form a relationship with someone it has to go both ways so return the favor!

  • almostgotit says:

    Great advice… and helped me write my own post today!

    Cheers to you :)

  • Sarah says:

    This is fantastic advice -as someone who seems to be forever starting in new towns, I’d say this is exactly the way to go about it. Apart from anything else, it makes you feel proactive; and then when you DO land a job in your industry, you realise that you have all sorts of great industry-related contacts thanks to the networking (which makes you incredibly valuable to an employer). Good luck!

  • Joya Cane says:

    I’m a youngish and I don’t like cleaning house. I wish my mommy would not make me do it.