Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Maximize Your Networking

It doesn’t matter where you work or what you do. If you’re not building a strategic network, you could be missing out on opportunities to advance your business and career. So how does one balance networking with an already unbearable list of daily demands? Set a plan and focus on quality rather than quantity.

Here are five easy steps for turning contacts into assets:

1. Make a Connection. When meeting someone new, establish a link back to you. Do you have a friend or colleague in common? Have you read an article in which the person was featured? If so, let them know. By warming the door, you immediately connect with them and lead them into a conversation.

2. Ease the Situation. Most people can detect the networking vibe from a mile away. Let your contact know right off the bat that what you’re looking for are ideas and advice. Professionals will feel respected, let their guard down and offer more valuable information.

3. State your Purpose. In two minutes or less clearly state your objective. Are you exploring ways to advance your career? If so, give a bit of information about your background and future goals. Are seeking out new customers? Talk about your current customer base, your success stories and how you’d like your business to grow.

4. Engage your Contact. Ask your client for feedback. Actively listen to what they are saying. If anything is unclear or if you wish to learn more, ask them. Now that you have them in front of you, make every second of their (and your) time count.

5. Get More Bang for your Buck. As you thank the contact for their time and exchange business cards, be sure to ask if there is anyone else they recommend you contact. Each contact you make should expand by at least one so you can continue to grow your network.
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