Making Networking Work

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by Rebecca Barnes, Publisher, Prince William Living

Believe it or not, it takes skill to network. Many people don’t believe it, which is why they often come away from a networking meeting thinking, “I got nothing out of that.”

That statement is not just a statement of feeling. It’s a statement of a problem.

If you come away from networking meetings feeling like you “got nothing,” it could be because you gave nothing.

Networking is About Giving

At its heart, networking isn’t about getting. It’s about giving. The neat thing is, when you give freely and authentically, you end up winning as a networker. Try giving these things, and see how much more of a success you become at networking.

Rebecca Barnes Publisher Prince William Living and Brides and Wesddings magazines

Rebecca Barnes, Publisher

  1. Give a damn. Networking should have meaning. It should be about building relationships and skills. Time spent networking is valuable time, so treat it as such. Go in with a professional attitude and a strategy.
  2. Give an ear. People want you to care about them and what they say. So ask questions. Be genuinely curious about them and what they do. Listen carefully as you’re having a conversation.
  3. Give an opportunity. When you engage with someone at a networking meeting and it seems you may be able to help each other, this is your chance to offer an opportunity to continue the conversation. Don’t throw a card at them. Ask them for a card, and set up a time to talk more, right there and then.

Networking Tools

There are hoards of tech tools out there that will help you succeed at networking. Assuming you’ve mastered the human factor, try these basic tools first:

  • Cell Phone – You will need this to access the other tools. Just be sure the noise makers are on silent or vibrate.
  • Google Calendar – It doesn’t have to be Google. Just make sure it’s a calendar. You’ll need this to set up your one-to-ones.
  • LinkedIn – Did you connect with someone at the meeting? Good! Now connect on LinkedIn. (Be sure your profile is up to date and polished first, though.)
  • Twitter and Facebook – Did you establish a starting point for a good business relationship? Tweet and tag them, or post and tag in Facebook. Note, you don’t need to friend them in Facebook. Friending is a bit personal at this point. But do like their business page.
  • Card Scanner – Use an app that takes business card info and puts it into your database or CRM. This saves time, and in the event you misplace the business card, you’ve got backup.

Once you’ve returned from the meeting, it’s time to start following up. My advice is not to wait too long, or something else will inevitably get in the way. Or you’ll forget. That’s what happens to busy people.

Need some tips for following up after a networking meeting? Tune in to next month’s blog. Don’t worry. You can use your calendar to set a reminder.

Learn more tips at our next Breakfast with an Expert. Register now.

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