02/24/2014 12:13 pm ET | Updated Apr 26, 2014

Networking Not Working? 5 Quick Tricks to Making Connections That Count

I arrived in New York City from Australia aged 25 with no network, no friends and needing a job. I got two great job offers in several weeks within the competitive online industry. I also started my life coaching practice in NYC late last year and have been fortunate to attract a consistent stream of clients. I am sharing my secrets with you here.

Networking's bad reputation is killing what is actually an age-old and very beneficial activity. Over the years, networking has become a dirty word when it is in fact an important, natural and valuable use of time. The way to succeed is to simply not think of it as "networking" but simply as making new connections and sharing information.

Here are my five secrets to growing your network:

1. Nothing! Well, apart from power up your laptop.
You already have more reserves of people in your life than you think. Your LinkedIn contacts, Twitter followers, former employers, peers, current peers, friends circle, running group and book club are ALL potential clients for you (or their friends/acquaintances are). Talk openly about the product or service you offer. Shoot out a note that is sincere and short with an incentive (free first session or 10 percent discount for friends and family). You never know who can be in need of what you offer. As a plus, if people already know and trust you, you are already pre-qualified my friend! Start here.

2. Use social media with intention.
Online communities are as valuable as offline communities. Follow people you want to connect with. Share their articles and join in on their conversation. This is a great way to have an active dialogue anywhere you are with just your iPad. You will also sound informed and have useful stuff to talk about when you connect with people.

3. When you meet a new contact or potential client, ask for a coffee.
Take the initiative. Everyone has time for a coffee. People are just people! Don't let them make you nervous. Then keep your encounter casual and informal. Remember you are not selling, you are just sharing information. This is also a great way to make new friends!

4. Give a free local talk.
Jeffrey Gitomer in the Little Book of Selling says, " Don't give a sales pitch but speak on your topic. Speak about interesting stuff that teases what you offer... if you sell burglar alarms talk about personal safety, if you sell copiers, speak about image and productivity... People are dying for a good talk." Show 'em what you got!

5. Connect others.
The wonderful thing about the law of return is that when we help others it comes back to us 10-fold.

You never know where your next referral can come from. No one is an island. We all need one another to succeed. And whatever product or service it is that you provide, people want it! Be authentic and proactive. The universe will take care of the rest.