The Year is now 1/2 way over; are you meeting your networking goals?
Now is a good time to begin thinking about what you want to accomplish by the end of the year. Networking requires an investment of time, money, and a commitment to give back to others whom you meet along the way. As with anything that requires an investment of time and money, it is a good idea to develop a plan and some attainable goals. This will ensure that you are maximizing these resources.
It is not enough to choose 2 or 3 organizations and attend every event that they host on a monthly or yearly basis. Soon, you will know most of the regulars, and while it is never a bad idea to strengthen these relationships, only speaking with the same crowd will limit your ability to meet new people and discover new opportunities.
Some reasonable goals could be; to add 100 new LinkedIn connections or Twitter followers, to become more active in your alma mater's alumni association or to go to an event which is outside of your industry. Think about some of your greatest challenges both personally and professionally. Whom would you like to and whom you would need to meet who could help you overcome these problems. Then search for organizations in Chicago where you can meet these contacts. Don't be afraid to ask your current connections for recommendations of events to attend.
It is also a good idea to conduct an audit of your current connections. Find someone you have not spoken with in awhile and send them a LinkedIn message. See where former colleagues are working now and send them a congratulatory email if they have landed a new opportunity. These types of interactions show that you truly value having these connections. This is what networking is all about!