Networking is the art of making and utilizing contacts. The goal of networking is to create a pool of people and information that can directly increase the quality of your product or service.
Networking is a two-way street. When you meet someone, you want to ask him or her about their business and tell them about yours. Start with the basics – name, company, affiliation, position, nature of the business, etc. You next want to find out if you can benefit each other. Try covering these topics:
* What does your company do?
* What types of clients do you serve?
* Who makes the buying decision within a firm for each of your services/products?
* What sets you apart from your competition?
You can’t network thoroughly with everyone. Once you have the preliminary information, you need to decide if this person is worth meeting again and creating a relationship with. Can you help them and can they help you? The answer should be “yes” to both.
Another criteria is to look for people who are truly interested in helping others solve a problem, no strings attached. In other words, don’t think of yourself as a networker but as a problem solve, and look for those same characteristics in someone you will consider adding to your personal network.
A network is not a collection of business cards. It is a collection of people. Take time to understand the business of those in your network. If you have chosen members wisely, this should be a pleasure. And, make sure that you educate them completely about what you do and whom you do it with.
Remember that the purpose of networking is not to try and get your contact’s business; instead, you’re trying to get business from everyone this person knows!
As your contact base grows, you have to re-evaluate the people in your information loop. Practice effective time management skills and prioritize your contacts. You will want to get in touch most often with those that can be most useful to you.
Read more about Lucy Rosen
Lucy’s book “Fast Track Networking: Turning Conversations Into Contacts” (EAN 978-1-60163-121-3, pages: 224, price: $14.99) was published by Career Press (www.careerpress.com) and hit bookstores nationwide on June 22nd.