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Networking 101 – Networking Effectively

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I’ve just read an article on Networking that says (and unfortunately I can’t see who it was written by) “For job seekers, networking is considered THE most important activity.”

In fact, in my opinion, every aspect of our lives is governed by networking of one sort or another and if we don’t work our networks properly or effectively, the bottom line is that we will not work effectively or optimally. Quite a reality check, I’m sure you will agree.

Most of us use our networks to expand our business contacts or to get more work in. On a personal level, I use my network for every aspect of my life. I listen to the stories of ordinary people, both in their personal lives and in their businesses, which often add value to the articles I write. I ‘remember’ what/who people are looking for and match them to people that need those things/services in their lives. When I look for opportunities, I not only look for myself but also for the people in my Network

Whatever we need from our Networks, there are always a few ground rules or tips that apply across the board. I know that I have covered them many times before, but from experience I know that often we don’t ‘hear’ things the first time that they are said. So here they are again.

When you attend a Networking meeting or event, be confident in your own ability, even if you’re not confident about yourself or have self esteem issues or even if you are shy, you have to come across as confident and that you know what you are doing.

You need to be able to market yourself and your product/service. This means of course that you need to prepare ahead of the Networking meeting/event. You need to have an ‘elevator’ speech ready and practiced and your elevator speech should not be longer than 30 seconds. It should be short, concise and of course contain the correct information. Remember that you are not the only person who is going to talk and that you also need to listen, in fact you need to understand that you will be doing a lot of listening.

No-one likes someone who only takes and never gives anything back and this is also true of Networking and Networks. In fact my motto is ‘give in order to receive’. The more that you give to your Network, the more your Network will give back to you. That doesn’t mean that you should be working for nothing though – we all need to make a living, but what it does mean is that you need to give referrals or hook people up. You can also assist those who you can see have no idea how to Network. Share your experiences and help them get started.

It doesn’t matter if you attend 1000 Networking meetings or events, if you do not follow up, very little will happen. I hesitate to say ‘nothing’ will happen because sometimes things happen despite what we don’t do. You need to engage with people, you need to communicate. If you don’t, getting contact information may prove to be more difficult for you.

So . . take a big breath, square your shoulders, put a big smile on your face and get yourself off to a Networking meeting.