Sunday, September 11, 2011

Networking For Success

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Contrary to popular belief, networking is more than meeting people and collecting business cards. Rather it is about establishing relationships with other business people that are mutually beneficial. The benefits of establishing a business network are many and can be realized throughout your career, from learning of career opportunities you may not have otherwise heard about, to earning more business and increasing revenue, to finding exactly the right employees to catapult your enterprise to the next level.

No matter where you’re at in your career, you should always make time for networking. In order to make the process a winning experience for both you and the people in your network there are a few rules you should keep in mind, including:

1. An “It’s all about me,” attitude has no place in networking.

2. Focus on building relationships with the people in your network.

3. Always be the first to provide a referral, lead, or recommendation; and always reciprocate favors if an appropriate opportunity presents itself.

4. Never skip an opportunity to meet new people at conventions, seminars and trade shows.

5. Always follow up on the leads or referrals you receive within 24 hours of receiving them.

6. Always formally thank the people who provide referrals to you.

Over the course of your education and career, you will naturally add to your network and continue to build on those relationships; and to keep your network strong, be sure to make contact with everyone in it at least once a year.

You can jump start your network by participating in business networking groups that exist for the purpose of sharing ideas, providing sounding boards and support and sharing business information. Don’t expect immediate gains, you still need to build relationships with the other members of the group. The best way to accomplish this is to become a valuable member of the group.

While it may seem labor intensive to build a network and nurture relationships, it doesn’t have to be. One of the main things to remember about is that the number of people on your contact list is not nearly as important as the quality of the relationships you’ve built. While there may be someone in your network that doesn’t seem to provide any immediate benefit, you never know where that person will end up and how they may be able to help you in the future.

Networking doesn’t have to be intimidating, even if you consider yourself to be shy. All it takes is a desire to meet and get to know people. Greet each new contact with sincerity and a willingness to help either now or in the future; and always offer to stay in touch. This holds true whether you’re networking in person or online.

Networking and the Internet

As with just about everything else in our modern world, the Internet has impacted business networking. Using online networking sites, it is relatively easy to connect with like-minded professionals; but you still need to put forth the effort to build a mutually beneficial relationship.

Read more here: Networking For Success and check out BOSS Founder Cameka Smith named one of the "Top Women To Follow On Twitter"