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Total Guide to Networking

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Networking’? Whatever you think of, it’s likely to be loosely based around sharply dressed business people exchanging business cards in a conference room.

But that’s a fallacy, because the truth is, networking can happen anywhere and with anyone. It is simply building and developing relationships with other people – and it can benefit your team or company greatly.

Everyone has a network, even if they don’t think they do – networks develop without you noticing.

All the people you encounter on a daily basis become part of your network – the real challenge is develop those networks to make them profitable to you.

Enter TGtM, and our Top 5 tips to successful networking:

1. Quality not quantity

It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to dish out as many business cards as possible, but you’re better off establishing three solid relationships than 20 shallow ones.

Make sure you focus on making connections with people beyond your business card details, and you’ll be on the right track.

2. Choose the right event

It may sound obvious, but make sure you research the networking event you’re attending before you book onto it.

Whether it’s a trade show or a conference, ensure it’s relevant to your business.

3. Don’t miss your chance to impress

First impressions are everything – they can make or break a business relationship.

You only have one chance, so make sure you give a strong handshake, make regular eye contact, and remain attentive to the other person.

And if you’ve misheard something, don’t be afraid to ask your new acquaintance to repeat it – they will not be offended!

Show interest in them, and they will show interest in you – and who knows where it could lead!

4. Clearly state what you do

When networking, your main aim is to encourage the other person to ask for more information about you.

Prepare yourself a 10 second introduction, and a 30 presentation to show people what you do.

As long as you are genuine and passionate about your profession, you won’t go far wrong.

5. Follow up, follow up, follow up!

This is the most important aspect of networking, and where a lot of people let themselves down.

You should follow up your new contacts after one day and then two weeks.

Follow up the next day with a hand written card – mentioning something from your conversation the previous day, and most importantly, your desire to keep in contact.

Then, after two weeks, arrange to meet for coffee or lunch with your new contact, giving you the opportunity to get to know them better, and establish that all important element of trust.

So there we go, the beginner’s guide to networking.

Are you a local networker? What would be your top tip for succesfful networking? We'd like to hear from you, please submit your comments below...

This article originally appeared in Business Zone.

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