Successful networking is all about healthy give and take. Don’t be a Simple Simon, learn to accept with gratitude and grace just the way you give. Most people shy away from asking for help because they either fear rejection or are plain simple egoistic and think it is below their dignity to ask for help. This attitude should be banished, no man is an island, we grow only when we seek help and are ready to offer it in return. Equally, if someone helps you in getting business always try and return the favour. Sometimes even a thank you note can work wonders. If you are open with resources, willing to share them with others, you are sure to gain friends faster.
Here are a few pointers about the process of networking, the attitude that goes with it and how to let it blend into your daily interactions. Most of all remember that all the people in your networking list are individuals. Treat them so and learn to loosen up when you network.
• When you meet someone, firmly shake hands, and exchange business cards. Keep your cards in one jacket pocket and put the cards you receive in another pocket. Prepare a clear one or two-sentence premise that sums up your work profile. • Find out what you have in common with the other person and steer the conversation in this direction. Then proceed to build a rapport. • See what you can do for others, not what others can do for you. If you are generous about sharing your resources, you will find it easier to make friends. • Do you feel awkward when entering a room full of strangers? This discomfort signals your desire to expanding your comfort zone. Mentally prepare yourself to deal with such situations. • Keep your own set of icebreakers handy, questions that you can ask others in the initial stages--Who are you? What is your business? …etc • Update new business cards. Jot down on the back of the card the date and place where you met the person, and any other relevant information. If you need to follow up, make a notation on your calendar. • Keep in touch with the people in your network by making phone calls, scheduling get-togethers, and sharing information on a regular basis. A networking acquaintance can become good friends if you invest your time and energy. • When you travel, contact local people of the national and international organization you belong to, so that you can further expand your network. • Successful networking requires give and take. You must become a resource and contact for others. When you get business from someone, look for opportunities to give them business in return. Keep them in mind when you find out that an organization needs a speaker or panelist. • If someone refers business to you, make sure you send a “Thank you” note. If you get major business as the result of a referral, you might want to send a gift.