Tips for True Networking Success

Building relationships is critical to business success. Even the most introverted person needs to get out and network. The goal is to build win-win situations, where you pass business back and forth and become resources for one another in a variety of ways. Here are some tips to get you started and help you continue your networking success.

Search out networking opportunities. The opportunity to connect is everywhere! Join a trade or professional group, your local chamber, get involved in a nonprofit & the possibilities are endless! You may find that not all are right for you, but the ones that deserve your time and energy. Get involved and stay engaged.

Look at your personal life. Networking opportunities abound in your personal life as well. Arrange for coffee with a neighbor, you may be surprised at what it is exactly that they do and how you may help them and vice versa. And what about your kids? If you have children, chances are they are involved in sports, activities and certainly school. Strike up a conversation with the other parents as you wait for practice to be over.

It's not all about business. Make small talk, find out common interests, and commiserate about your hometown sports teams. Talking dollars and cents exclusively is boring. Mix it up and begin to build a real relationship.

Follow up. When you've met someone you'd like to know better, send an email promptly. Remind them where/how you met and maybe a bit about what you spoke about. Ask for a meeting, coffee, lunch or dinks, at their convenience. Mention if you know of anyone who may be interested in their product or services.

Be yourself. You don't need to be 'on,' or don another personality. Just be relaxed and interested in another human being. We all like to talk about what interests us, and most of us are interested in our business. Ask questions about the person's business and let the conversation flow from there.

Be a facilitator. Do you know people who should know each other? Reach out and provide the introduction. When you meet with people one-on-one, ask them what they are looking for. Is it referrals (what kind)? A new position (what type)? Are they looking to hire? Do they need contractors to take overflow work? Be prepared to answer the question, "What are you looking for?"

Maintenance. Continue with emails and suggest get togethers with those you connect with the best. However, don't overlook others, and maintain a regular time to devote to emailing your contacts. A simple 'hello,' 'how are you doing,' 'how's business,' etc, goes a long way in building good will and good relationships.

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