11 11 2009


Networking. Whether you’re in pursuit of new business or looking for a job, networking is crucial – particularly in these economic times. Because companies are advertising less and spending more time on improving operational efficiencies, word-of-mouth communication is likely your best bet for gaining a presence in front of the people you want to meet. And you don’t have to think of networking as just a business affair, personal networking is a good way to meet people who share your same interests as well.

After reading through a few articles about networking, everyone (as you can imagine) has their own spin on how to network and why it is important. In the end, it’s all about time and place. Put yourself in a place where your target audience or circle of influencers will be and attend events that match your personal interests. If you don’t show up, you are purposely missing that window of opportunity leading you closer to meeting your goal(s).

In general, it’s important to do the following:

  • Create a networking strategy driven by who you want to meet, when, and where – use your personal brand and interests as a guide so that you stay on point. (i.e., industry group boards or committees, local organization volunteer efforts, Chamber of Commerce events, etc.)
  • Control conversations by asking others questions about themselves, genuinely listening to what they have to say, and modifying your elevator pitch to integrate key points of the conversation in a way that solves one of their problems or creates a value added benefit for their clients.
  • Think about networking as an avenue to build long-term relationships. Therefore, follow up with each person in a way that keeps you top of mind and relevant to their interests. (i.e., thank you cards, e-mail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, send related articles, request a coffee chat, etc.)

As you build your audience and meet more people, you will also need to consider what it takes to be an active member in the circles you have joined. Remember, you’re building long-term relationships – maintaining and sustaining these relationships is up to you. If you’re networking online, check out these helpful hints about staying in touch with your online circle of colleagues.

What about making contact with a busy person who seems out of grasp? It’s important to remember that busy people are busy for a reason – lots of people want to connect with them, either for business or personal reasons. They also triage communications based on their needs or perceived benefits. The less you are hung up on thinking that you’re entitled to a response or expect even a short moment of their time, the better your chances of connecting with them. Respect busy people for setting priorities, find the most efficient way to communicate with them, be direct, and create connections with their interests to add relevancy to your communication.

The reality is that networking is hard work. It takes time to research opportunities, attend events, listen genuinely, and follow up thereafter. But, hopefully, if you’re focused with your interests and intentions, you’ll create more opportunities for establishing deep relationships with the people or communities that can also help you succeed.

Photo courtesy of Incitrio > Brand Speak.




One response

24 06 2010
Relationship Overload – Turning Friends and Followers into Real Relationships

[…] The Company Line Blog has a helpful post about networking. Here is an excerpt: […]

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