Whenever someone tells me they don't have the energy or motivation to network, as someone did yesterday, I lay this story on them.

Back in 1998, I was promoting my first book, The Real Life Guide to Starting Your Career. The publisher and I picked 10 media we'd love to get into, including CNN, Fortune and Playboy. We worked the usual channels to no avail, so I started working my network. Nobody I knew knew anyone at CNN, so I searched the alumni database at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Turns out, a few Tar Heels were on the CNN payroll.

I dropped them an email with something like "Help a fellow Heel" in the subject line. One by one, they referred me one step closer to the newsroom. It took about seven emails before I was put in touch with a writer in the interactive division. Here's the resulting interview. We also scored an online chat and a short mention during a newscast.

That alone was great, but because we were able to say the books had been featured on CNN, we had more clout with Fortune and Playboy. We got into both.(The Playboy piece isn't online, but here's the Fortune mention.) And from that, I landed a gig at Playboy writing for the After Hours section.

There are two morals to this story:

  1. You'll never know how far networking will take you if you don't do it. So just do it!
  2. Networking isn't just about the people you know. Expand your networking to affinity groups like alumni associations and you'll get even further.

Now who doesn't have the energy or interest to network now?