Stop Poking Me and Just Listen! Networking is Easier than You Know…

Our friend, we’ll call him Bob, attended an event filled with business professionals. The majority of the attendees, like Bob, saw this event as an opportunity to further their career, pitch an idea, get a better job, meet the right people, or anything else that was self-benefiting. Bob, like his fellow attendees, had business cards on-hand, his 30 second pitch ready and a mobile device to take notes on everyone he met. The night before Bob spent studying rules of networking and techniques for how to successfully network for a job.
That is a lot to remember! We’ll simplify both business networking and social networking right now with our networking quick tips.
1)      You Are Always Networking. This does not mean every person you meet is someone you are selling to or that networking is something that happens only when you attend a specific event. Rather every person you meet is an opportunity to build a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.
2)      Give. Give. Give. Think, “How can I make this person’s life easier? How can I help solve this person’s issue? Who could this person benefit from meeting that I know and they do not?” Get to know the person you are talking to. Ask her questions about herself. You will be remembered if you can offer a solution to something that is beneficial to the person you are speaking with and not just seeking benefits for yourself.
3)      Keep In Touch. Take the time to call or email a minimum of 5 of your contacts a day to say ‘Hello’, ‘Hi’, or even ‘Buenos Dias’. A 5 minute phone call or a 2 minute email is more than enough time to check-in. If someone has more to say, setup a time for a longer conversation or a time to grab coffee. At 5 people a day and 365 days a year you can keep in touch with 1,825 people! That is a big network! Taking the math a step further, the time spent in keeping in touch is 1.7% of your available time for the year. This is time spent to increase your opportunities from advancing your career to even a possible invitation for a weekend trip to Las Vegas (it’s happened and trust us – Vegas is a good time).
4)      Be Patient. Be Assertive. At this point you may be asking yourself “This is great and all but how do I get stuff done if I only give”? That would be an excellent question. Just like in sales if you are too focused on the needs of your client you are being passive and if you are too focused on your own needs you are being aggressive. If you’ve been listening to what your network is saying you will find the median between giving and taking which is being assertive (similar toThomas and Kilmann’s ways of conflict resolution). You have needs too. Even if that need is meeting more people, don’t be afraid to ask and address your needs.  
5)      Say and Show Thanks. When someone in your network gives you advice or provides you with a lead do not forget to say ‘Thank You’. Send a follow up email. Treat him to coffee. Get her in touch with people in your LinkedIn network. Remember, networking works (continues to grow exponentially) when it is mutually beneficial for all of the people involved.
Whether it is your friend list on Facebook, your connections on LinkedIn, your followers on Twitter or your contacts in your address book increasing your network comes with benefits that can occur at the most unexpected times.
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