If you’re a savvy worker living in the digital age, you know that networking is vital. You may have also begun the process of inviting colleagues and industry movers and shakers out on coffee dates. This is what you should be doing, but it’s sometimes hard to get people to take time out of their busy schedules to give you career advice. Free lattes aren’t that enticing.
What’s the alternative? In a terrific Huffington Post story titled “4 Ways to Get Expert Career Advice Without the Fuss,” writer Ebonie Townsend shares great fuss-free (and caffeine-free) tips for well, getting great tips.
No. 1 is offering networking contacts something in return. Even if you’re an industry newbie without much experience, there’s probably something you can provide for that high-profile person you’d like to meet with. Do you have design skills that might help with a presentation they’re working on? A talent for writing that might help them knock out a press release? Chances are you have more to offer than Starbucks money.
Townsend’s second tip is to join online communities. Regardless of your industry, there’s probably a Facebook Group devoted to it, and if you’re a female entrepreneur, you might try something like The One Woman Shop, an online community Townsend has herself joined. Online communities are excellent ways to connect with smart people for zero dollars.
Utilizing one specific community, Clarify, is Townsend’s third piece of advice. Here, experts charge a per-minute fee to answer your questions and share their knowledge. Townshend suggests cutting the introductory talk about how people got to where they are and instead cut to the chase. What do they think of your goals and personal development plans? If you’re on the right (or wrong) path, these folks will be in a position to tell you.
The last one sort of has to do with coffee, though it doesn’t have to. By using apps like Treatings and Coffee The App, you can connect with professionals in your area who share your skills and interests and might be game to collaborate on projects. This is another way to foster interactions that aren’t one-sided. If you’re a writer, maybe you can link up with a designer, combine your lists of contacts, and offer a new service to clients. That’s the example Townsend gives, and it’s just one of many, many possibilities.
This is all to say there’s more to life than coffee, though it is delicious.