By creating associations with people both inside out outside of your field you can create shortcuts to your destination. Often, people in your network can help you, teach you, and introduce you to more people. But why, you may ask, would all these people be so willing to help? Because you’re doing the same for them! The beauty of a network is that everyone associated with it benefits. A network is more about what you can give than what you want to take. Successful networkers focus first on what they can do for others in the network. People are motivated to help others who have helped them in a reciprocal relationship. If you don’t think so, look no further than the nearest tree. The oxygen from which you’re breathing in while it absorbs the carbon dioxide that you exhale.
Where to network?
So you want to Network but you don’t know where to start. Networking happens all around you all the time. It could be between your friends, family, or neighbors. The thing to remember about networking is that it happens all the time no matter where you are. Be ready to represent yourself through the way you interact with others.
Social media has become our most direct, immediate source of communication. Oftentimes the first inkling we get about the latest news comes via Facebook or Twitter. The world has become “flat” thanks to the flow and availability of information. Use this to your advantage and connect with more people in your network than you could have prior to these channels.
Networking online is about joining relevant groups, participating in forums, interacting with bloggers, or even writing your own blog. Use basic search networks to your advantage grow your network. The beauty of your online presence is you get to present yourself exactly how you’d like to be perceived. No stuttering or awkward silences as may come up during in-person interactions. You have time to craft your words and your message and the great thing is, while you’re putting all that work into your online presence you’re doing your homework for when you do get to present yourself in person.
In person networking
You will attend seminars, join associations, go to conventions, trade shows, and meet with people. As you do this remember to always look presentable. There is nothing worse than meeting someone you’d like to add to your network and looking like the last person they want to meet. The first rule of in-person networking is confidence. A firm handshake, strong eye contact, a smile are a good start to a relationship.
Small talk your way to big results
A little banter can go a long way. Avoid being forgotten by making a connection on a personal level. Talk about similar interests or where they are from. Simple get-to-know-you questions are a great way to get things started. Remember to not be intimidated no matter who you are talking to. With practice and preparation networking can become second nature to anyone willing to try. In the course of your efforts you’ll end up meeting lots of great people and might even forge some strong relationships.
Do your homework
One of the most important aspects of successful networking is having definite objectives. If you don’t have a specific purpose you will not be prepared to guide a conversation in any meaningful direction. Be clear about what you want to convey about yourself. Practice responses in a conversation by writing answers down. Create a personal pitch so when you’re in a networking situation, you’re clear on what you want to convey.
One of the keys to networking online and offline is follow up. Follow up on every meeting or interaction within a few days. The last thing you want is for a person to scratch their heads asking themselves, “who was that?” Don’t give someone the chance to forget who you are. Whether in person, over the phone, or over the net, your most valuable networking tool is you. You are the product so know your benefits and what you can do for others. Have your business cards ready. Know your personal pitch. Smile. Be confident.
Smart Circle. Smart Sales. Smart Opportunity.
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