Five Keys to Networking

No one will become successful and achieve greatness without the support and help from others. The power of people joining together for a common purpose is greater than one trying alone. The ability to build a strong support system is a key factor in achieving success. Networking is the process of meeting people and developing personal and professional relationships. It is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools around. Referrals generate more results than cold calls. Networking leads to more jobs than want ads, and most people have a larger network than they believe they do. The old saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is more than true, it is a mantra anyone wanting to be successful should imbed deep into their consciousness.You must also realize that the time to build your network is now. Do not wait till you need something! The title to Harvey Mackay’s networking book says it all, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.” You must establish a network and continuously build, nurture and attend it. Networking is not selling, using people, or badgering friends and associates about your business. Networking is sharing information and resources for the mutual benefit of everyone in the network. Proper networking does not make people feel uncomfortable, rather it is the development of goodwill, trust, service and contribution among those linked together by some common bond. You will provide information, tips, and resources far more than you will receive them. However, what you do receive in return will far outweigh everything else. It is that one big break that comes from your network that makes you realize how fortunate you are to have such wonderful friends and acquaintances. We have not even mentioned the joy you can feel by helping others succeed by sharing and assisting them reach their goals too. It is the exchange, the helping of each other, that makes networking such a powerful strategy to achieve success.Five Keys To NetworkingNetworking is important, but how do you get started? How can you be an effective networker? There are too many aspects of networking to cover in this short section, but it will address five keys to help you network your way to success. The keys to networking to focus on are: Develop Your People Skills; Create a System; Nurture Your Network; Give More Than You Receive; and It’s Who Knows You. Start looking for ways to incorporate these important lessons in your own networking. The benefits will be astounding.Develop Your People SkillsNetworking is all about people. If you want to network successfully and professionally, you must be professional and develop the skills to interact with people in all kinds of situations. The section in this book on appearance will assist you with getting off on the right foot. If you want people to perceive you as a professional, you must portray yourself as a professional. This means all areas: attire, speech, mannerisms and actions. Your appearance will go a long ways toward a good first impression. Another people skill you can develop to ensure you make a lasting positive first impression is your introduction of yourself.You want to introduce yourself in a way that creates rapport with the other person. You want the introduction to generate interest that will lead toward developing a relationship. You can draw people in or turn them off with the way you introduce yourself. It is worth the time right now to think about how you can best introduce yourself to others to create positive lasting first impressions that will assist in developing relationships. It should be a natural and fit the situation. Keep it short and express what you do rather than what you are. Use common words but be different enough to distinguish yourself from others. Smile! Be warm and engaging. Enthusiasm attracts others to you. Then listen to their introduction and become interested in them. Practice and evaluate how you introduce yourself to others and you can create an introduction that generates interest and has a positive lasting effect.Another important people skill that follows introductions is that of remembering names. This is an extremely important people skill for the master networker. If you can remember names, your network will be more successful. Make a choice right now that you will take the necessary steps to remember names. Stop telling yourself that you can never remember names, faces yes, but names never. Tell yourself you can remember names, and make a conscious effort to do so every time you meet someone new. Upon being introduced, tell the person it is nice to meet them and use their name. Use their name again during the conversation and a last time as you part. Review business cards of people you met at the end of the day and associate their name, face, business so you will better remember them the next time you meet. The more you work at this, the easier it will become.While you are no longer going to have trouble remember names after committing to remembering them, others might. Be courteous and professional by reintroducing yourself to those you have met before. Tell them your name and where you know each other from. This will relieve them from the embarrassing moment of trying to recall your name and how they know you. The successful networker takes the initiative and reintroduces him or herself rather than waiting for someone to remember them.The most important people skill you must develop is being gracious and courteous to everyone. Common courtesy and good manners go a long way. You will never develop a successful and enriching network without them. Treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Pleasant and cordial people attract others toward them. You never know who will end up being important in your life, so treat everyone as if they are the most important person you know and you will never go wrong.Create a SystemIf you do not have a system to organize and retrieve all the names, addresses, numbers, e-mail addresses and information you have collected from others, it will not do you much good. You must establish a system to organize and retrieve the information in your network. There are many ways to do this, from an address book, to a Rolodex system to the new computer database systems.It does not really matter how you do it, as long as you do. Devise a system that works for you. It should allow you to keep your network organized as you build it, retrieve information from it, and work at keeping relationships growing. Accessibility is the key to an organizational system. If you cannot find the information, you cannot refer to it, share it, or act upon it. Organize your network by creating a system that works for you.Nurture Your NetworkIt will do you know good to collect names and cards in an organized system if you do not keep in touch with the people. If the only time you contact people in your database is when you need something, you will be remembered as someone who only calls when you want something.You should nurture your network by keeping in touch with people. You can send notes, e-mails, and letters. You can call or visit. The key is to develop the habit of nurturing your network on a consistent basis. Send thank you notes when someone does something for you, even if it was just passing on some information that they believed would benefit you. Call people you have not touched base with in a while to see if there is anything you might be able to help them with or to just catch up on what they are doing so you can be on the lookout for things that might help them. When you do come across something that you believe might be of interest to someone in your network, forward it on with a little note. There are many little ways you can nurture your network. Make it a habit and you will reap the benefits from what you sow.Give More Than You ReceiveBest selling author and motivational speaker Zig Zigler is fond of saying, “You can get anything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Zig’s advice is better than anything else one could say about networking. If you give more than you receive, you are bound to receive more than you could ever imagine. Networking is not about keeping score. It is about people helping one another. The more you help others, the more powerful your network will be, and a powerful network will do wonders for your career and personal life as well.One of the easiest ways to give more than you receive is to become committed toward the success of those in your network. If you truly want to see others succeed, and become committed to that end, you will spot little things to pass on to assist them with their goals. Every once in a while you will be able to pass something along that is quite huge in helping someone else achieve their dreams. The stronger your commitment to help others succeed, the stronger your network will be. This network built on commitment of helping others will be a powerful force in your own success. You will find that the more you give, the more opportunities you will receive. Do not build a network of acquaintances. Build a network of solid relationships. These relationships will be formed when you are committed to the success of everyone in your network.It’s Who Knows YouThe old saying that it is not what you know but who you know is only partially correct. It is who knows you that really matters. You must create visibility for yourself. You want to be known. One of the easiest ways to become known and increase your network is to participate in various organizations and committees.Professional organizations abound, and joining can enhance your opportunities to expand your network. Clubs and organizations provide excellent places to meet others and build an interesting and productive network. These groups may have both local and national chapters, providing for contacts in greater geographical areas. National and international conferences can be a resource to expand not only your network, but your business as well. Associations can be within your industry or civic minded organizations such as Kiwanis and Rotary. Professional organizations can be related to your occupation or focused on skills that everyone can use such as the speaking and leadership training in Toastmasters International.Serving on a committee or board of an group or organization can be a great way to get involved and contribute. This activity also provides an opportunity for network growth. You create visibility for yourself by serving on such committees and boards. You gain the stature of someone who participates, who contributes. You become known as a leader. Remember the fourth key, you must give more than you receive. Serving will make you known as someone who gives.Networking is powerful. Following these five simple keys will build a solid foundation toward a network that will bring you more than you dreamed possible. You will find that you enjoy being there for others, and be thankful when they are there for you. If you don’t have the network you want, start now. Remember Harvey Mackay’s saying, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.”

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