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10 Ways To Network Effectively

Things you can do to build an effective networking system

If you are looking for a job, starting a business, competing for sales, trying to organize events, wanting to join social circles or clubs, or if you are in an established business and want to cultivate or maintain a competitive edge, networking is the key to building successful relationships, personal or professional.  

The right contacts can mean landing a new job, or if you are a salesman, it could mean making more sales. If you are a small business owner, it may be the catalyst for growth and success.

(1)  Make the most of your time.  This means that you have to have be self motivated and be willing to try new ideas.  You may have to change your attitude and your thought patterns, especially if the way you’ve been doing things isn’t working for you.

(2)  The best sources for networking are people you know.  They are your family, friends, acquaintances, and people you have done business with in the past.  These are the people you should invest because they know you and know what you are all about.  Send them a card, a bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers or simply pick up the telephone and call them.  As a starting point, they are your best resources. 

(3)  Make it a point to meet someone new every day and try to introduce yourself to people who can help you.  Be friendly and enthusiastic, but don’t be overbearing and a know-it-all.  Shake hands, talk, ask questions, give answers, and exchange ideas. 

(4)  Create networking events for yourself.  Invite people to meet with you, individually or in groups.  They can be held at your home or office.  Taking people out to lunch or dinner can be expensive, but it can be productive.  Remember, you should never spend money you don’t have to impress someone.

(5)  Don’t be disappointed if some of the contacts you make don’t seem interested in what you are saying.  People want to hear what they want to hear and tune out everything else.  Remember, you are not interested in everything people say to you either.  You can’t please everyone, so cut your losses and move on when it becomes apparent that a person isn’t responding the way you would like them to.  Don’t waste your time because your time is valuable.

(6)  If you are trying to establish a network for business purposes, reach out to other entrepreneurs in your field, even those who are your competitors.   You’d be surprised to find that they are willing to talk and give advice.  You may also find yourself doing business with the competition in the future in ways that may be beneficial to the both of you.

(7)  Volunteer your time and services to charities and other events.  Many charitable organizations are funded by successful business people who often drop in to see how things are going and to help out where they are needed.  Often times, they are the ones who serve food to the needy, answer the phones, do manual labor, and donate their time to causes that they are passionate about.  You don’t know this because they are often humble people who don’t want to be in the spotlight.

 (8)  Become active in children’s sporting events such as little league baseball, soccer, basketball and football.  Volunteer to coach, be an assistant coach, umpire, or work the refreshment stands.  You will meet parents, teachers, coaches, and their friends and relatives who come to cheer on the different teams.  It is fun and a great way to network with a host of people.   

(9)  Try to be helpful, open, and authentic.  Be willing to bring others along with you. Be willing to listen and take advice because sometimes others can see things you have overlooked and they can point you in the right direction.  By helping others, you often help yourself.

(10)  One of the best networking tools that have been around for many years is the business card.  A business card is a simple way to connect with people by giving them your name, company name, home or business address, email address, and your telephone number.  It lets people know who you are and how you may be of service to them and vice versa.  When out in public, keep business cards on you at all times and you will see that they are an effective networking tool.

Networking is about starting conversations, sharing ideas, and bringing people together. It’s about making friends, forging business relationships, joining social circles and clubs, and exchanging information.

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