Networking is probably the most important skill you can learn. It can help you find a job, get promoted, sell more stuff - and even find your spouse. Yet this key skill usually isn't even taught in school.
At its core, networking is actually very simple: it is the process of developing new relationships and deepening existing ones. It can be boiled down to three steps: Fish where the fish are, Meeting new people, and Give to Get.
1) Fish where the fish are: positioning yourself to meet people. This means attending association events, joining community groups, going to professional development seminars, and the like. The only way to meet people is to physically get out to places where your "prospects" spend time.
2) Meeting new people: the initial approach. Once you are in position to meet people, you need to reach out and connect. Here are some do's and don'ts:
Wrong way: gravitate to those you know, and steer clear of any new faces.
Right way: After you have briefly acknowledged your friends, seek out new faces.
Wrong way: Talk about the weather, the transit problems, or your deadlines.
Right way: Ask open-ended questions to learn about their priorities and interests.
Wrong way: Talk to the same person during the entire time.
Right way: Once you know three things about them, it's time to meet someone else.
Wrong way: Ask for a favour.
Right way: Give to Get.
3) Give to Get: Growing your network by giving. Find ways to to help those in your network be successful. One idea would be to send them news clippings about their priorities and interests. The more you make a deposit into the relationship bank, the stronger these relationships will be - and the more you will get out of it later.
This week's action item: Choose one part of the process (Fish where the fish are, Meeting new people, or Give to Get) and practice it this week.
Make It Happen Tipsheet
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Copyright © 2007 Knowledge to Action Press and Randall Craig. All rights reserved.
Publication Date: June 5, 2007