Sunday, November 28, 2010

Networking forFun and Profit

hAs we have discussed, although Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are terrific tools, there is one that is more powerful than any of them; old fashioned personal contact. The answer is Networking. Networking gives you the opportunity of meeting your clients and associates on a personal level that is not available over the internet.

Of course you do have to depend on the internet to stay in touch with distant contacts, but even a phone call can strengthen that bond. Checking in just to say hello, see how you can help, or share a referral adds a personalization otherwise not available.

Face to face contacts make for much stronger relationships; whether business or personal. This is where Networking comes in. Mixers, meet and greets, and seminars are all great places to solidify existing contacts and make new ones.

Just like any other activity, there are rules of conduct that apply to Networking. Remember: “you only have one chance to make a good impression.” Some things must be avoided at all costs, including hogging the conversation, drinking or eating too much (unless you are at a dinner meeting), selling, bragging, not listening, hanging out with people you already know, or spending time on your phone. (anything except a true emergency can wait).

Networking is all about building relationships; people buy from people they know and trust. You are there to make new friends, enhance your reputation, and share local knowledge. You should be prepared (investigate the event before you attend), be approachable, be enthusiastic, write your thank you notes and do your follow-up, and by all means remember your manners.

Besides making new friends and strengthening existing relationships, you are likely to have a good time. They used to say in New Zealand that ”a change is as good as a rest” so get out of your comfort zone and try Networking. You will be amazed how your life will expand as a result.