Yes I've read over 30 books on networking... I spend time watching, listening and learning from the most authentic networkers ...and I have a ton of secrets I don't share except with those that will use this power for good.
(That's you right?!)
So here are two that pay me weekly dividends.
1) Offline ( aka the Real World )
It baffles me when people go to business events and sit with people they know.
Sitting with co-workers is like traveling the world and eating only at McDonalds!
You want to gab about work, do it at work. You're here to learn, meet new people who will help you with your job and might even improve the quality of your life.
At first I tried to get away from these folks - but they kept following me!
So in 2002 I tested a theory I've used at every type of event, personal and business since.
I get to an event early. I put my bag down on a chair and then I go network until the very last minute that is socially acceptable.
Then, I sit down and meet my surprise guests. I was at an event tonight and some VIP's sat down at my table. Listening to these intelligent, wise, thoughtful people was like free liquor for my brain. As always, some smart-alec walked by and said "I see you've seated yourself with the best people" and without having to come back with my classic line, this time they said it first...."actually, we sat with him!".
Try it some time. It has worked miracles for me.
Everyone knows I'm a LinkedIn pusher.
It's made me real world money and helped me in every facet of work and life.
But here's one part of LinkedIn most new folks don't join right away.
Groups connect you to like minded folks in a variety of subjects. They offer you a chance to share opinions with folks you don't know and often open new doors you didn't even know existed.
I have joined several groups of brands I like, sometimes when there was no one else in them. It's paid dividends several times because I get direct access to the creator of the group.
Tonight at the same influential event I mentioned where I was there to network the host of the event said to the 100+ guests "we have a LinkedIn group that we hope will be of help to you but we need more members. The only members right now are me and some guy named Paul Nazareth".
Guess how that reception went.
LinkedIn Answers, book lists, slideshare, blog link. Get in there, reap the rewards.
Your network is waiting!