How do you approach networking?

Networking Definition: the developing of contacts or exchanging of information with others in an informal network, as to further a career.

I think all business owners large and small know that networking is vital to the advancement of their career or growth of theircompany, but how many people actually do it and do it well?

Networking comes easy to some and not so easy to others.  There are a number of things you can do to enhance the experience for all involved.

Maintain dialogue with many different people even if they can’t help you at the current point in time. Nothing looks worse than running to someone only when you need something. 

Know what you can do and how it can benefit others. Practicing your elevator speech will help you ensure you answer “What do you do?” with confidence and conviction. Along with knowing what you do, always keep business cards, brochures or other marketing materials handy. You never know when the opportunity will arise to promote yourself and your business.

Ask others what they do, what they are interested in and listen to the response. This sometimes can take some practice as we often get wrapped up in our own world.  Try it, you never know what you will learn.

If you meet someone who is interested in what you do, be sure to follow-up. It may not turn into anything, but you have now expanded your network and you never know where it may lead.

Join clubs and networking groups. It will often take some time to find the groups that are best suited to your needs.  Asking others which groups have benefited them will help.

How do you best like to network?  Do you prefer online or in person at events and trade shows?  

(photo courtesy of sxc.hu/blary54)

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