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10 steps to making your networking work
By Arnold Sanow   Printer Friendly Version

Every time you meet another person there is an opportunity to do business. By sharing ideas, leads, contacts and opportunities everyone prospers. The purpose of networking is to give and get information. If you network properly, nobody feels pressured or used. You are not selling, you are telling. You are not asking for favors, you are giving valuable information.

By going to business card mixers sponsored by the local chamber of commerce, starting or joining networking clubs, and generally letting everyone in the world know what you do, you'll be well on your way to getting more clients --- and having fun at the same time.

There are 10 key ingredients to make your networking effective:

  1. Set networking goals - determine the types of people you want to meet, how many you want to meet and what functions you are going to attend.
  2. Be specific - While networking, be very specific about the type of person you want to meet. For example, as a speaker and a trainer, I look for meeting planners, training directors, human resource directors, personnel directors and others. These are the people who hire people like myself.
  3. Develop a "16 second" sizzler - You should be able to tell others what you do in 16 seconds or less. If we go on much longer than this peoples minds tend to wander
  4. Get involved - Go to meetings of the rotary club and other civic and fraternal organizations, church groups, trade and professional groups and others.
  5. Increase your visibility - Speak before groups at every opportunity. Write articles for trade publications or newsletters. Become an officer in your club. All these add to your credibility and motivate people to seek you out.
  6. Make contacts - Whether it's a business or social situation and you want to meet someone, just do it. Take the risk; what do you have to lose? The more people you know the more opportunities will come your way
  7. Ask - If you don't ask for what you want, you won't get it. Find the person who can help you and whom you can help. Then ask.
  8. Keep in touch - Some people are great at networking. They have no trouble meeting people, but when it comes to following up with them they drop the ball. We recommend staying in contact with clients and those in your network at least once every two months. Call them, invite them to lunch, send articles relevant to their business, play golf, send them a copy of your newsletter and so on. Whatever you do, stay in touch.
  9. Always have your networking tools with you --- Make sure you have your business card and promotional material handy. I would also recommend you put your picture on your business card. At the end of the day, you'll be remembered.
  10. The more you give, the more you get - When someone gives you a lead, referral, new business, or an idea make a special effort to return the favor as soon as possible. In addition, always send a handwritten thank you card.

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