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Networking in the Land Industry

July 26, 2019

Networking does not come naturally to me. Plus, since I work alone in an office, going to a networking event isn’t as easy as asking my co-worker and using the buddy system to feel more comfortable. I’ve done a fair share of networking in KC in the sports industry, but that was easy because I knew people already. However, I completely avoided networking in my actual field (technology, specifically software development) for years. And I got away with it.

Recently, however, I moved from working one-on-one with my own clients to a full-time Chief Technology Officer position at National Land Realty, a full-service real estate brokerage company specializing in farm, ranch, plantation, timber and recreational land across the country. The good news is, I get to start building a team. The bad news? I had no idea where to look, how to hire, what to pay or even how to manage a team of developers. I needed to network in my field. I needed to figure out what everyone else was doing and learn from them. I needed to find the developers.

I didn’t want to. I didn’t have time. I needed to put it off longer. I could tackle this next week. Back into my shell.

But I knew I needed to trick myself into starting. I know myself well enough to know that once I pushed a door open just a little bit, I’d start to feel more comfortable and then would spring into action.

I looked around on Meetup for developer groups and came across Code for America – the Kansas City Brigade. Its description was very inviting – developers team with community organizations to develop technology (mostly apps, websites and datasets) that will help the city and its people. It mentioned that all levels of experience and all areas of expertise (graphic design, user experience, database design, server side scripting) were needed and welcome.

This step felt comfortable to me. I love volunteering and contributing to the greater good. This would let me do that and have a side effect of meeting people in the technology industry in the community. That would hopefully lead to finding someone for my team or even just finding out about other networking functions to attend or places to look for new hires.

I call this my Autopilot setting. I turn it on when I have something to do that seems too big to take on or that I’m just reluctant to do. It puts me in the right direction without many expectations attached and without much effort expended on my part. It’s a start, and that’s all it’s expected to be.

I’ve used this “setting” before when I need to, say, get working on the family photo calendars for Christmas. I know it will take a lot of time, so I procrastinate at first. I get on the right track by texting my family reminding them about the calendar and asking them to send me any photos they want included this year. Their texts back serve as nudges for me to start on my part – organizing the photos and selecting the best ones. It’s like setting random calendar reminders almost.

Sure enough, after several Code for KC meetings, I’d had some informative conversations, met people with great advice, and was alerted to a few events that would make sense for me to attend. A month ago, I found my first hire.

Here are ways to turn Autopilot on before you’re ready to dive in to a daunting task:

•   Set a Calendar Reminder

For example, I need to get my passport renewed, so I put a calendar reminder in for the week my daughter will be visiting my parents (since I know I’ll be less busy). The calendar reminder has the link to a page I found with all of the information about what needs to get done to renew your passport. Then I added “so you’re ready for Rome!” to remind me that we want to go to Rome sometime in the next year or two, and I’ll need my passport!

•   Automate a Task

This is a great way to start you on the right path. Need to save money? Set up an automatic transfer of funds from checking to savings every month for a relatively small amount. This will make you realize how easy it was to save money without noticing. Then you may be ready to increase the amount. Want to learn more about a certain product or concept that you’re not ready to implement in your work, but don’t want to forget about? Subscribe to an email newsletter that will keep you abreast of new information.

•   Post on Social Media

For example, recently I needed to find us a new family dentist in our area. I’ve been procrastinating doing this, but we are overdue on appointments. I finally posted to my daughter’s school’s parents group on Facebook asking for recommendations. I got a whole bunch, which made me feel better about being able to find a good one. Which leads me to my next suggestion…

•   Fill out a Contact Form or Join a Mailing List

I went to a couple of the dentists’ websites and filled out their contact form saying we’re looking to set up appointments. It’s almost like asking an assistant to book an appointment for you – it’s now up to the dentists to call me back first and get me set up. I don’t have to pick up the phone. As another example, I need to learn more about a new service offered by a company we use at work. I signed up to receive updates about this service on the company’s website. Even if I only read their emails every week, I’m learning more without expending much extra effort.

•   Order Something

I’ve been meaning to frame and hang up some (digital) pictures I have had for a loooong time. Why do we put these things off? I don’t know. Instead of trying to get them printed, pick out frames and decide where to hang them all at once, I just went to Snapfish, uploaded the pictures, and ordered prints. That’s it. When the pictures came in the mail 10 days later, I was excited to see them, which motivated me to order the frames (online). When the frames come, I should be even more excited to put them in the frames and actually hang them up. Baby steps, people.

This post was originally published on the Athlete Network blog.

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