Networking is the art of building and sustaining mutual beneficial relationships. There is a worthwhile reason for all parties to participate. It happens at home, at work, in our community, with everyone. Networks can be formal or informal. Formal networks are usual set up with a specific goal in mind e.g. regular communications or meetings between people representing a particular service, organisation or issues. These networks are usually set up for people to work on something together e.g. evaluate community or consumer needs, evaluation of funding and for action groups to work on a particular issue. These networks could be for a short period of time or an ongoing basis. Informal networks can be natural friendships made from work or social circle etc they can also be deliberate connecting.
Many people have rolodex full of names. The question is, how many of them do you really want to help? Which of them would really help if you have called? If people don’t know much about you and what they can do for you and what you can do for them, your relationship is limited. Hence, keep your network information organised and up to date. Think realistally about the quality of your contacts and handle unhealthy relationships with utmost care.
Everyone can be useful in your life. Some are decision makers, and others influence them. What’s most important is that they share your values and their actions reflect the quality to your life. People grow and change throughout their life. It is worthwhile reviewing your networks periodically to see whether you have people in the right place for mutual success. We don’t live in a perfect world, so we can either spend time fighting our culture or accept reality and invest in best our best, on the outside as well as on the inside.
For maximum networking success, be aware of all three aspects of communication- your body language, your tone and your words. You should know how to make the best use of your business cards and get most from your contact cards in a way use technology to manage your connections. At the heart and soul of any networking interaction is a conversation, prepare for each conversation and meet person to person. It is always crucial to make a strong first impression and the stakes are higher at large events such as conferences and trade shows.
There is nothing that builds confidence more than knowing the best practices. Knowing best practices gives us peace of mind that we know how to conduct ourselves. These three points will help you connect better- Think before you dial, Prepare for events, meet more effectively. Always have your networking survival kit before you head to an event, conference or meeting e.g. name badges, company profile, product descriptions, work samples etc.
Few people follow up and even fewer know how to follow up, the difference between successful networking and unsuccessful networking is follow-up. Your goal should be to get your face in the place, whenever possible and express your thoughts. Keep your network strong and healthy. When you maintain your network, you will never have to start from scratch again. Be a lifelong learner and add networking to your portfolio talents.
It's not what you know but who you know that makes the difference!