Having trouble networking?
Here are some ways to make it work for you.
General rules include:
- Develop a network before you need it. Build relationships before you’re out of work or in search of new clients.
- Stay in touch. Maintain your network even when you don’t have a specific need.
- Cultivate respect and trust.
- Have clear goals. Know what you hope to gain.
- Know what you have to offer others, and reach out to them before they ask.
- Do your research. Learn all you can about your contacts and their interests and needs.
- Be genuinely interested in getting to know others — and show your interest. Ask questions.
- If you meet someone, follow up with a note, a call or an e-mail.
- Keep your word. If you say you’ll do something, do it. You’re not busier than everyone else.
- Be responsive. Answer calls, reply to voice mails and e-mails.
When you meet someone in person, the rules change a little. Here are some tips for face-to-face networking:
- Be polite. Turn off the cell phone. Don’t check for messages while talking to someone.
- Have a brief “elevator speech” that tells who you are and what you do. But use it only in a pinch. Real conversation is better.
- Develop a good handshake: firm, but not too firm.
- Get involved. Take leadership roles in organizations and volunteer in the community.
- Prepare. If you’re going to a convention, find out who’ll be there.
- If you join a networking group, make sure it offers what you’re looking for — referrals, a new career, better business practices or something else.