Effective networking can help you land a sale, find a better job or get you a promotion. Before you make the sale or get the job, however, you must first establish relationships -- and that is the core of networking. Whether through face-to-face personal contacts or connections made online, networking is your key to building a better future.
While your ultimate objectives in networking may be self-serving, approach the process with a broader vision. Networking is about building two-way relationships. Just as you want something from them, the people you network with will want something from you. Build relationships by sharing ideas and contacts on a mutual basis. It is on the strength of those relationships that you will ultimately get the sale or job. Relationships are not built overnight, however, and if you begin with a self-serving attitude, you will not be successful.
Where to Network
Opportunities to network are everywhere. Friends, family, coworkers, past employers and college alumni associations are good starting points. Make contacts through networking meetings, such as those sponsored by the chamber of commerce or local business associations. Find more contacts through meetup.com. BNI, Leads Clubs and similar organizations charge membership fees, but their focus is strictly on making contacts and building a network. With each of these organizations, the key to networking success is being active and sharing. Merely having your name on a membership list will not help.
LinkedIn is the networking site of choice for many professionals, but it takes time to use it effectively. When you ask someone to connect with you, take a few minutes to personalize the request. For example, enter a short message to inform the recipient about your common interests. Follow companies as a way to monitor the competition and connect with employees you might know. Join a special interest group to uncover more possible connections -- and networking possibilities.
Schedule Networking Time
As you build your network group, pay attention to maintaining and strengthening relationships. Schedule time each week for networking activity. Provide a service for as many as you can. For example, send a noteworthy newspaper clipping or article to someone in your network. Share links to your blog when the subject is relevant. Meet someone for coffee or post another person's link on your Facebook. Remember birthdays and work anniversaries. When you find ways to be helpful to others, you increase the chance that they may someday reciprocate.
- Photo Credit George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images
How to Network Your Computers
It's not surprising that home networking is hot: Nearly 70 percent of U.S. households with broadband connections have more than one computer....
How to Give a Presentation About Networking
Presentations about networking often lead to the participants learning valuable skills they can use in the real world to build professional relationships,...
How to Network at a Gym
Networking at a gym is a great way to stay on the lookout for potential clients and business propositions. Network at a...
How to Communicate Effectively
Good communicators understand that effective listening is just as important as effective speaking. Communicate effectively with tips from a management trainer in...
How to Network Effectively
Effective networking is based on exchanging contact information and following up with contacts that have been made. Network effectively with tips from...