When you hear the word “networking” today, you think of something related to computers like a series of computers linked together in an office or like the social networking so many of us do on the internet in places like Twitter and Facebook. But networking was around long before computers took over our lives. Remember the old saying, “it’s not what you know but who you know?” That was and is networking.
Networking is developing contacts so that both parties receive some kind of benefit from the relationship. This can happen at business meetings, conventions, the doctor’s office or the grocery store. Depending on the type of contacts you are looking for, whether it is for a job or new customers for a job you already have, any chance meeting can be an opportunity to network.
Carry your business card with you at all times. If you carry a brief case, keep a current copy of your resume on hand. Carry any flyers or brochures in your briefcase. If you are attending a meeting, wear a name badge that easily identifies you. Most importantly, have your pitch prepared. If you’re drumming up new business, you’ll need a pitch for potential customers. You can use this in a business setting or while talking to the other moms waiting to pick up their kids from soccer practice but you can’t use it if you don’t have it prepared.
Set a Goal
When you attend an event, know ahead of time what you want to achieve. If you are attending a job fair, determine ahead of time how many recruiters or specific types of employers you want to make contact with. Outline how many potential new customers you want to find at the open house. Having a goal keeps you focused and on track.
Establish Yourself as Helpful
People gravitate to positive, friendly and helpful people. If you are generous with your time, your words and information, people will see you as helpful and more importantly, they will remember you. At an event, act as a hostess, making sure people’s needs are met. You can accomplish this by bringing others together, the key to networking. Even if they can’t give you a job right now or aren’t interested in your product line, they will remember you because you put them in touch with someone who could help them. People don’t like someone they see as a taker or user. Establish your good intentions and helpful ways and it will go a long way in forming the kinds of relationships that can prove supportive.