There is a no lack of networking advice out there in the blogsphere today. Additionally, you can buy any number of great books by authors such at Keith Ferrazzi and Harvey Mckay. But I have been networking for a long time as well, plus I have read all this material too. So for those of you who are trying to find a job, change jobs or increase your business here are Five Networking Tips to Make You More Effective in 2012.
Never start a conversation or relationship with someone by asking for something. Yes, I realize that the purpose of networking is to “get’ something, such as a referral or a name, but relationships start better if you are offering something. However, you cannot offer something unless you know the person at least a little bit. So I recommend you start off with this kind of approach.
“Hello Bob, my name is Mike H. Joe S. (the mutual friend) told me you are someone I need to know. I was wondering if I might be able to schedule a brief meeting (or call) in order to see if indeed we can be of mutual benefit to each other?”
Prior to the meeting use social media or search to find out whatever you can about the person you are meeting with. Determine if there is something in their background that might act as a target for some way you can help them with. At the meeting pay attention to what is said, who is talked about, what their background is, where they went to school or any other information that comes from the meeting. Then try to be a resource of information or contacts for that individual.
You will probably shock the person big time by not asking for a name or referral right off the bat. It will be even more memorable if you can offer the person something of value as a result of that first meeting.
Be focused in your networking. The shotgun approach of calling everyone and contacting everyone with no seeming purpose just makes you look desperate. Now you may be desperate, but you do not want to come across that way. Understand what you are trying to learn from each individual and why you are contacting them.
Realize that networking is NOT adding someone on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or Facebook. Networking is best conducted person to person, or at least voice to voice. The tools help your research and they facilitate the introduction but that is not networking.
No one is going to take responsibility for you finding a job or finding a new piece of business. You have to take that. So when you are done with meeting someone their memory will fade very fast. Set up a schedule of contact with them. Watch for information that they will find of value and send it to them. Set up a Google search on key words to notify you of things that your contact may find valuable. You don’t have to do that for everyone, but the very important ones need to get things from you to remind them of your existence.
Be confident but be realistic. Another writer cautioned against trying to reach too high in order to make a contact. It is unlikely that you will be able to connect with Bill Gates, or Donald Trump, or Richard Branson or other mega personalities but that doesn’t mean you should give up hope of reaching someone that has title of President or Vice President. Who knows, perhaps you would eventually be able to reach a superstar if your network gets you there but start more realistically.
There is a ton of networking articles out there, some written for women, some written for shy people, some written for sales people, some written for consultants, etc. Just do a search and do some learning.
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