Savvy Networking: Who You Gonna Call?
by Susan RoAne, aka The Mingling Maven®
Having a Network is Mandatory
People have relied on whom they know for information or referrals since the beginning of time. We have depended on this exchange of shared resources since time immemorial. Networking is defined by Webster's Unabridged Encyclopedia Dictionary as "the act or process of informally sharing information or support, especially among members of a professional group. Networking is a reciprocal process, and exchange of ideas, leads, and suggestions that support both our professional and our personal lives."
There is also a spirit of sharing that transcends the information shared. The best networkers reflect that spirit with a genuine joy in their "giving." We all have networks we were born into, went to school with, live in neighborhoods and work with. Savvy networkers understand that networking is a process of communication which works for those who appreciate the path and process as well as the destination. One cannot stress enough just how important it is to develop and finely hone follow-up skills. There is no process of networking, no sharing of information, resource nor referral that occurs without it.
Secrets to Savvy Networking
- Follow-up is a basic tenet of life.
- Acknowledge "gifts" given to you as well as leads, ideas, advice and time.
Behaviors and actions support words; the lack of either subverts them. We must T.A.P. into our networks, being Timely and Appropriately Persistent in our follow-up or we will fail to establish and increase our base of contacts. That is networking in a nutshell!
People who have resources are resourceful. People who are willing to open their Rolodex or contact management program, pick up a phone, call on their contacts, and ask for help and solutions, and who offer leads, information, and ideas, are perceived as powerful and smart. The closest thing to knowing something is to know where and how to find it.
Powerful people have linkages that are plentiful, diverse, and expansive - and are able to get things done because of those linkages. President Clinton's superb and savvy networking skills cannot be denied. He was elected because of his network! What are the special networking skills of the masters:
- They meet people for the first time and look them right in the eye and makes them feel comfortable.
- Ask a question and listen intently and let you know they are talking to you.
- Stay in contact and are very loyal to their friends. If something crosses their desks that might be of interest, they will send it on.
- Use laughter and are equally at ease with both men and women.
- Embrace people, not just the 'right' people.
- Makes the connection, even if they just share a glance.
- Exude confidence, yet appeal to the most average person.
But, how do we become a person with whom people want to talk, to work, to collaborate or to spend personal or professional time and energy? We must become savvy people who are aware of the unwritten rules for this process called networking. One must understand the politics of markers and owing chits.
If we understand that savvy networkers are soft-sell and establish the relationship in networks, we will be shining stars of the business community, as well as in our personal endeavors. Savvy networkers share a skill with successful leaders: they are aware of their impact on others, and behave accordingly. And, they are aware of the "Favorbank": its deposits, withdrawals and accrued interest.
Rather than view "networking" as a time waster, savvy networkers see it as an investment, which may pay off for a "designated receiver." Someone who had been of immense help to me in the early stages of my business asked me if I could help her daughter who had graduated from law school. It was my great pleasure to return my friend's assistance and support by helping her daughter. And, it relieved her of having to appear as a nagging parent.
By the same token, we get to call in favors to help our friends, colleagues, relatives and cronies. Networking has been the way of the world. We just gave it a new term. It used to be called . . . helping!
Susan RoAne is an in-demand keynote speaker and best-selling author who has worked conventions, trade shows, meetings and the bleachers of Wrigley Field. Her best-selling books: How To Work A Room®, The Secrets of Savvy Networking and What Do I Say Next? and her audio-book, RoAne's Rules: How To Make the RIGHT Impression, are available in local and on-line bookstores. Susan RoAne is the nation's leading and original networking authority and can be located in San Francisco at 415-239-2224 and at: Susan@SusanRoAne.com © RoAne 2004.