Many business deals depend so much on networking. This may sound unfair, but sometimes our success in business is more about who you know than how good you really are. It also usually follows that the more varied your contacts are, the more insights and opportunities you’ll encounter.
The Mentor. This type of contact is especially important if you’re new to the world of web working. You don’t need to know your mentors personally to learn from them – you can know them from their blog or body of work. In fact, it’s entirely possible that your only interaction with them is that you follow them on Twitter and comment on their blog. This person could also be close enough to be the supervisor you see everyday or the parent who raised you. However you come across your mentors, their purpose in your life is the same. It is their ideas and experiences that will shape you and give you the foundation you need so you won’t be taking blind steps.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you follow your mentor’s every idea and accept them without question – even the student-teacher dynamic includes situations where the student rebels against the master. But you trust your mentors enough to know that their experiences will benefit you in some way, and that when you’re left with indecision you’d ask yourself what they’d do given your situation.
The Walking Social Network. This person is very well connected. He or she knows people across industries and even across the globe. If ever you need a new contractor or a new client, this is the person to talk to. Usually, the walking social network is friendly and loves exchanging ideas with a variety of people. You won’t have problems trying to chat up this person. Having this kind of friend is important, especially for shy web workers who like to keep to themselves.
The Non-Techie. Web 2.0? SEO? This person has no idea what these words mean. The most this person knows is that your work has something to do with the internet. Non-Techie contacts are essential for several reasons, primarily because they can be an unexpected source of opportunities. If he knows a business or individual that wants a website done, he’ll likely refer you, as you’re the “Internet Guru”.
Also, whether you’re a developer or copywriter, you might benefit from the perspective of someone who isn’t all too familiar with how things work. In other words, your Non-Techie contact can be like an informal focus group of one.
Plus, his lack of knowledge on your line of work will give you broader things to talk about. This can be a refreshing change from all those RSS feeds you read all day.
The Newbie. Whether it’s a friend who wants to know a bout the potential of earning online or a business owner who wants to own a blog, many people will run to you for help. Now, helping out these people could be time consuming, but it’s also very rewarding. The act of sharing information validates everything you’ve learned throughout your web working career. It asserts that you do know what you’re talking about and that you have a lot of expertise you can offer to others – something we often forget because we tend to mingle with other experienced web workers.
These contacts don’t have to be different people altogether. In fact, your mentor could very well have many connections, and your non-techie friend could soon be the newbie who wants to give web working a try. In fact, these people could even be your clients. Web workers often talk about how isolating our work can be, but as long as we keep our connections stable and varied, we’d always have someone to turn to, no matter what we need.