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Network in ways no one else does

Creative strategies to expand your contacts

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

You’ve heard all the standard ways to network, such as chatting up strangers at a trade show and setting up informational interviews with potential employers. That’s fine, but here are some less popular, more creative ways to expand your Rolodex:

Host parties. This may sound hard, but it’s actually a breeze. Invite friends and business colleagues to gather together after work one day. Example: A freelance journalist in Manhattan invites writers and editors to a monthly social mixer at a local restaurant. She reserves a private room, arranges an open bar and oversees the mingling. Her parties have grown so successful that The New York Times wrote about her networking savvy.

Call quoted sources. Read newspapers, business magazines and trade publications with pen in hand. Circle the names of interesting individuals who are quoted in stories. If you’d like to network with them, call them soon after the article appears and use their quote as an icebreaker. Say, “Your comment in The Washington Post about expense control really hit home with me. May I ask a follow-up question?”

Act as a reporter. If you want an excuse to contact a certain group (say, executives who hire people like you), think of an article you can research and/or write for your industry’s trade publication or even your company’s internal newsletter. You can often get hard-to-reach people on the phone when you leave a message that says, “I’m researching a story on [topic] for [name of publication]. My deadline is next Friday, so I’d appreciate a call before that time.”

As a rule, always follow up with a letter after you have met someone over the phone. Extract a particularly interesting comment they made or a fact you learned thanks to your phone conversation.

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