Learning to network

December 22, 2006

Zero Effort Networking (part II)

Filed under: Learning, Manage my network, Technologies — Arthur M. Gallagher @ 6:41 pm

Following on from my previous post (How to keep tabs on your network with almost zero effort) here is an explanation of just how easy it is to set up a group to help you with your networking.

If you remember, I decided to create what those networking pros call “an alumni group”. In plain terms we invite the people we worked with on a major project, and subsequently our colleagues in the same company, to join a mail list to help each other keep in touch. Setting up the group is a real doddle, so I won’t dwell on it here – go to Yahoo! Groups, sign in with your Yahoo ID, create a new group and choose the type (in my case Business & Finance > Companies > Former Employees).

The real fun is in the creative bits – the name and some basic materials.

Because the company has no official alumni group (yet) chose to do this without affiliating it to the company, and this allowed me to be more creative with the name. Many of my connections worked together on a major change project that was loved by those working on it and hated by many outside it. This meant that the death of the project mascot would be a suitable subject, hence “The Badger’s Wake” became the group’s name.

So I’d created the group and named it, the only thing left to do was try and get people to join, and help guide them to the principles I decided to use to get the group going. This is where the “Technical Author” in me came out, and I worked out a little “documentation plan” – a list of what pieces of copy I needed to write, who they were aimed at and what purpose they would serve.

Invitation

This is something to entice my ex-colleagues into joining and tell them how to do so. I know that “send a mail to subscribe@mygroupname.com” is not a difficult task, but I think some gently encouraging words always go down well.

Joining instructions

This what people receive when they actually become members, so I wanted to use this to explain ways I thought of to make the group work well for everyone involved, and some simple guidelines to ensure it was fair and useful for everybody

Because the group was private, I set it so moderators had to approve membership (only people who HAD worked in the particular department of the particular company). The only two other short pieces of text I needed were polite little explanations for “your membership is pending” and “you’ve been refused, this is how you appeal”. Once I had these I loaded them up into the group’s file store, and flagged which ones would be sent out automatically upon certain events (joining, pending, refused).

Then the last thing to do was to start sending out the invitations to the first wave of people to start bringing people on board. Of course, three days before christmas was not the most sensible time to do this, but they do say that networking is something you can’t rush – and why should you if you want it to be almost zero-effort networking, where all your peers help each other keep in touch.

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