I thought of networking as a dichotomy — either I was out with one of Cleveland’s various YP groups or secluded at home.
Event-based networking was a huge goal. I even wrote a book about it.
I still believe it’s important to build a network in person, but I no longer see a night at home as a night not networking.
What changed? I started writing.
Through visits from my LinkedIn posts and comments, I am in the Top 1% of profile views among all employees of Ohio’s largest county hospital. I know industry thought leaders and authors. Friends past and present have sought me out for advice or just for a beer.
Here’s how writing has been key to my network.
You will never lose contact with that interesting person.
I’ve lost contact with many interesting people at networking events — someone leaves early, gets caught up with another group, etc.
It would be great if in real life, you could poke an interesting person and get a name and Twitter handle. This is possible online.
Writing online has introduced me to great people. I never lost touch with them at a noisy bar. It’s been a platform to share thoughts with my network and learn from their feedback (cough: Comments welcome!).
It’s an instant conversation starter.
I still try going to a networking event once a week or so. It’s rough to strike up conversation with acquaintances. My writing has become a helpful conversation starter.
“I loved X article.” (Thank you, you should read Y book if you’re interested in that.)
“Is that part of your job?” (No, not yet anyway. I just find writing really important.).
Struggle with the awkward “What have you been up to?” question? Avoid it: start writing! Your network will know exactly what you’re doing and will want to talk about it.
People will seek you.
Blog posts seem to remain in the ether, but they affect reality.
I have built a great network near and far through writing. Writing shows you have a voice, which feeds a network. People see you give freely and naturally want to return the favor.
People let me know if they are moving to my hometown of Cleveland, or even if they are just passing through. I have had authors whose books I reviewed contact me to say thanks. Friends from grade school to last month have contacted me for help with Excel or work advice.
Don’t Just Do Something, Write There!
I no longer see writing as a pastime for a slow night in. It’s just as important to a good network as live events.
Try it — like a message in a bottle, you never know how it will help you!
George J. Mount is the author of Sip, Smile, Repeat: How to Crush It at Young Professional Networking Events.
Read more and subscribe at georgejmount.com.