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The Top 10 Tips for More Effective Networking

Networking isn't just exchanging business cards. The objective is to really form valuable relationships.

1. Select a group that makes sense for you and your business.

Does the group attract your potential customer? Does it put you in contact with your strategic partners? Does it help you stay current in your field? Could you learn new skills that will help you find work or business? Meetings that involve potential customers or strategic partners get you in touch with your target market. Meetings that teach you new skills or keep you up to date can get you in touch with mentors and peers.

2. Become an active member.

Once you decide on a group to join, become an active member so others will get to know you. Meeting someone once is just the beginning. You want to cultivate deeper relationships.

3. Arrive at the meeting early and stay late.

Networking occurs before and after the meeting.

4. Help others.

Be prepared to help others if you want help from others. Your openness is felt and will be appreciated.

5. Listen more and talk less.

Ask people questions and get them talking about themselves and their businesses. Find out what they are struggling with or what they are celebrating.

6. Make notes on the back of the business cards you receive.

If you exchange business cards with someone, write down the date of the meeting and what the event was on the back of the card. Jot down a couple of notes about your conversation.

7. Follow up with a personal note.

Write a personal note to those you meet and add them to your mailing list, contact manager and/or spreadsheet. To keep the connection mail them an update, tip, or article periodically.

8. Set goals for the event.

Set some goals for the networking event. Who do you want to meet? How many contacts would you like to make? What did you want to learn?

9. Identify people in the group you want to meet.

Identify the movers and the shakers in the group. These are the people who know everyone else and can introduce you to others.

10. Form relationships.

People are not part of your network until you have a relationship with them. Some of those you meet you will want to stay connected with through email and regular mail. Others you want to make an appointment with to talk to them either by phone or in person.

About the Submitter:

This piece was originally submitted by Alvah Parker, work/life coach, who can be reached at asparker@asparker.com, or visited on the web.

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