Networking works incredibly well. Unfortunately it isn’t as simple as peddling your bike where you want to go. The benefits of networking are unpredictable and not easy to control (to specifically target – you can do this, it just has fairly uncertain results). So networking can seem like you put in all this effort peddling up hill day after day, month after month, year after year, and yet you never get to see the beautiful rainbow or end up at a wonderful ocean beach.
However it is well worth it, especially for those that have valuable skills and experience. To some extent it might work just to get opportunities anyone with a decent attitude could get. But networking is most effective, I think, when you have special skills that those in the community can share with those that have opportunities and give you a decent shot at a job. A big reason this works is that the job market is very inefficient – thus networking can greatly increase your odds (if it were efficient this would matter much much less).
I have been able to get jobs and consulting as a result of networking. It didn’t give me jobs, I couldn’t have gotten otherwise, but it allowed to know of opportunities, to be sought out by others, and to be seriously considered when I approached others.
I have long believed it is very valuable to build a personal brand online (for knowledge workers anyway). The return for doing so may well be difficult to measure. But it can definitely help open doors and give you opportunities for jobs and consulting.
There is a huge opening for those working in six sigma. The amount of great content and number of bloggers for lean manufacturing is huge. The six sigma area is very open for the type of quality, valuable, insightful content that is published online for lean. If you want to build a network of practicing managers, providing great six sigma content online is a great opportunity, that can easily support many authors.
LinkedIn is a good resources to build your network – my profile. A web site, or blog, is the best strategy for a knowledge worker, I think. Sharing even a handful of good articles provides a way for people to see the value of adding you to their network. Obviously building personal relationships is also important, in many ways the most important. Web sites are great because they give you a huge reach right away, but deeper, personal connections are much more powerful.
Another benefit of networks is the learning you gain from them. And the possibility of your network helping you find the right person for your organization.