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Most people either take networking too far — adding everyone they meet to their LinkedIn network and burning through half of their business cards at every event — or they don’t do it enough. But LinkedIn executive chairman Reid Hoffman says being sincere doesn’t mean you can’t effectively use and update your network. Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, founder of Comcate, Inc. explain in their upcoming book “The Start-Up of You,” which is excerpted on CNNMoney.
Here are three of their best tips:
1. Dedicate time, and money, if possible, to keeping your networks active.
Networking is more than just swapping emails with someone at an event and emailing them when you need something. When you invest in your relationships, they’re more likely to think of you and help you when you need it.
Hoffman recommends putting away a percentage of your income regularly for things like coffee dates, or even a cross country trip for a meeting, to keep up with your connections.
2. Expand your network exponentially by asking for introductions.
Ask your first-degree connections (those you know personally) for introductions to people in their networks, but provide valid reasons that show why a relationship would be mutually beneficial for you and that person.
In general, it’s a good idea to spend some time researching the person you want to connect with, says Hoffman. Highlighting something you both have in common will improve your chances of getting that person’s attention. Highlighting something you both have in common is likely to get that person’s attention.
They recommend making at least one introduction a month.
3. Give “small gifts.”
A small gift, says Hoffman, is “something that’s easy for you to give, unique to the relationship, and unusually helpful for the other person.” This could be an article you read that adds a new perspective to a project someone is working on or a introduction to a potential investor.
Everyone likes to know they’re being thought of, and your associates will most likely appreciate your offerings if they are thoughtful and not over the top.