Innovative Networking: Finding What Works for You
By Lisa S. Sullivan
The LinkedIn profile of Kamna Narain (“Coach Kamna”) says that she provides “thought leadership and coaching to individuals seeking clarity and guidance around getting from where they are to where they want to be.”
At the April 20, 2016, SF IABC Independent Communicators’ Roundtable (ICR) meeting, Kamna spent an hour and a half sharing some of her techniques and insights about what she sees as a critical aspect of managing the change process.
After a bevy of personal challenges, Kamna came to see the value of networking, particularly to those who might be going through a period of transition or isolation. Be mindful when considering what is right for you and your life circumstances, and seek to make genuine, authentic connections, she advises. An inspired coach, Kamna has developed an acronym, FIGS, to guide this process.
Kamna suggests that we consider our audience – those with a cell phone in hand. She notes that, thanks to burgeoning technology, humans now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. A study by Microsoft revealed the skittish goldfish can pay attention for nine seconds. Humans tend to lose focus after nine. It is critical to refine your message by concentrating on one aspect of your business for a specific time period or event, and repeat/repeat/repeat.
Time is a commodity. When you are setting up a coffee meeting, ask yourself if you’re okay walking away from this meeting without having gained anything. If you do want to pitch your services, be very clear about that. Ask yourself if a virtual meeting might be preferable. In a world where we are bombarded by merchandizing, the power of the coffee meeting is to make a deeper connection, to forge a bond in real time. “Coach Kamna” says to leave the pitches and appeals to emails and phone calls.
Your network is likely much greater than you may realize. Participating in groups is an effective way to widen your aperture and see what else is out there. If you can’t think off the top of your head about what group to join, Narain advises digging a little deeper. There are associations, organizations, and industry, alumni, diversity groups. But only join if you plan to be active and engaged. Can you make the time to attend on a regular basis? Can you contribute your time or donate? If so, groups can push you forward through professional development and new peer networks.
Of course, there is social media. Kamna cautions that not all social media is the same. Facebook has evolved as the space to share personal, sometimes surprisingly confessional, information. For work, LinkedIn.com is the best bet for reaching a more focused and similarly interested group of people. In fact, Linkedin.com updates, according to Kamna, trump WordPress and most blogging platforms because they are distributed through a feed that begins with your own network.
You can add up to three keywords to ensure that what your post is searchable by subject area. Your updates will have to compete with a never-ending stream of company posts and influencers, those whose posts are selected to be re-distributed by the content strategists at LinkedIn.com.
Posting is a way to remind people that you’re there and let them know what you’re working on. You can share an article that interests you or write something. The key is to post at least twice a week. Daily posts are best if you want to stand out in the frequency of status updates.
Coach Kamna urges that, at each step of the process, you should be yourself. Get out there, take small steps, and think FIGS. And if you are suffering from FOMA (fear of missing out), look for Innovative Networking, Part II.