Networking is the process of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships with like-minded people through the exchange of resources and information and mutual support.
Know why you want to network. If you only network for the sake of networking, you may not get the desired results. Network with purpose and set goals before attending meetings or events.
Preparation is key. Prepare thoroughly before attending a networking event. Preparation includes researching speakers, practicing your elevator pitch, and knowing what you bring to the table as you seek to connect with others.
It's almost impossible to connect with everyone at large events. Research people you want to connect with, find out when they are speaking, learn about their interests, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn. When the time comes to contact them, you will know enough about them.
Join business and industry groups. Many of them provide member directories that you can use as networking leads. Get involved in committees and boards that can put you in touch with a variety of other business people. Join online social media forums.
Attend events related to your industry or the industries you want to network with. Consider trade shows, conferences, seminars, and events hosted by chambers of commerce. Always go alone. Circulate and introduce yourself, but do not spend too much time with any one person.
Be selective when it comes to who you add to your circle of business contacts. You want quality business people with a supportive attitude in your network. You also want people who are good at their jobs.
When you meet someone, introduce yourself and ask questions, you can learn valuable information. Inquire about the challenges their company or industry is facing. Give the person your undivided attention instead of scanning the room for your next contact.
When you meet new people at networking events, take a moment to jot down notes about them. This will help you remember your talking points when you follow up later. Always send a follow-up email. Use your notes to personalize your communication.
Make referrals between business contacts wherever possible. This shows that you are interested in mutually beneficial relationships with other business people.
We all need help from time to time. If you want your networking efforts to be successful, you must be willing to ask for assistance. Make sure you can articulate what you are looking for.
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