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Make Contact

Building your network just got easier.

  1. Do you want to find a list discussion group (or listserv, from the name of a software program used to run them)? With a little searching, you'll be able to find thousands of forums where you can share ideas, ask questions, and learn from others with common interests.

    Hang on to that old school tie. Many universities offer online databases that help you find other alumni who can offer guidance and assistance.

  2. If you are job hunting or changing careers, learn about a career field by joining a list discussion group.

  3. Do you have a stack of business cards that you've not yet entered into your contact management system? Now you can buy a device that electronically scans and saves business cards. It also allows you to retrieve information using the name, title, company name, address, phone or fax number, or a memo you've added with the attached keyboard. The device also includes a notebook, a calendar with a reminder alarm, a calculator, and a built-in world time clock.

  4. Want to do some e-networking? Visit a Web site and send a short introductory e-mail to the creator or manager of the site to start a dialog.

  5. To get acquainted with a regular correspondent, e-mail a photograph of yourself.

  6. In face-to-face communication, we rely on gestures and nonverbal cues to supply part of the meaning. Be aware that email lacks these meaning enhancers. That means that the words you use must be crystal clear and must also convey the emotional tone you want your message to have. When you communicate on the telephone or face-to-face, you know immediately whether your message has been received, understood, and mutually agreed to. You don't with e-mail.

  7. Fast Company magazine has a global network of Friends of FC—leading businesspeople, provocative writers, out-of-the box thinkers, and cutting-edge educators—that it can contact to stay up-to-date on trends or to get feedback on an idea. Do you have a list like that?

  8. Start a support group on your company intranet. Ask your human resources department about intranet policies in your workplace. Suggest a survey to discover what people are interested in. Your special-interest network can focus on a variety of topics: It might link people who are dealing with a family member who has Alzheimer's with community resources or link people in different departments who all deal with customer service issues.

  9. You can post a question on a bulletin board where 3 or 4,003 people might see it. You may receive a far richer answer than if you called three or four people in your network.

  10. Use instant messaging to spot who's online and hold a virtual meeting. This hybrid of e-mail and chat allows "live," one-on-one conversations or group conversations on line. We predict that new "netiquette" will be needed to deal with this intrusive, pop-up technology.

  11. Use e-mail to send a colleague or coworker a pat on the back. If you want to make his eyes light up, type "Great job!" in the Subject line.

  12. It's great to e-mail someone in Paris and not have to worry about the time difference. But if you are mailing to someone who has learned English as a second language, be especially careful. Be even more careful if you know your message will be translated.

  13. Use message boards to share or get tips.

  14. Do you put out a newsletter to promote your business? Be sure to provide valuable information along with ads. Don't sign up people automatically. Ask them. Be scrupulous about removing people who say, "Unsubscribe me!" from your mailing list.

  15. E-mail doesn't cut it when you're trying to cultivate camaraderie and trust. And don't e-mail if you want to brainstorm. E-mail is not the place to rev up the energy, excitement, and chemistry you need for idea generation. Get face time. Have periodic meetings or retreats to bring people together, if possible.

  16. Two randomly chosen documents on the Web are, on average, only nineteen clicks away from each other, reports Science News, kind of a nineteen (rather than six) degrees of separation.



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