There is power in networking. Do not limit the power in networking to simply finding a job. Networking can be the key to unmasking a wealth of business knowledge, referrals, market information and industry trends. Understanding how to network provides you with a mechanism to navigate through a variety of business scenarios.
Identify Specific Target Markets
Maximize your networking potential by meeting influential people. Your goal is to meet people who have the ability to effect change. Organize your group based on their specialty, location or industry to yield the most results. Developing a strategy will help you reduce your market to a manageable group.
Know Your Marketplace
In order to tap the wealth of knowledge of your group, you must be knowledgeable. The best way to become knowledgeable is to read. Read journal articles, websites and white papers to gain insight about the industry. Remaining informed will allow you to think on your feet, reducing the number of surprises you may encounter.
Be Visible and "In Play"
You must be available and engaged to network. Attend company functions, join professional organizations, and become active within your community; you must connect with people within your organization and specific industry. Consistently making yourself available is a discipline. You must commit to being available so that you can effectively network.
Always Give Something Back to Your Profession and Community
Giving back to your community provides insight to your character and places you in a position to receive rewards and benefits. Your name will become recognizable as someone active in the community. Name recognition will lead to individuals returning favors from your past good deeds.
Practice Networking Etiquette
Networking etiquette is essentially your ability to give back after you have benefited from networking. Your goal is to continue to build the relationship therefore; you must cultivate the partnership you have created. Networking is a shared exchange; it should not be one-sided with one person receiving all the benefits.
Maintain Shelf Life
In order to remain relevant, you must have a track record of accomplishments. Grow your portfolio of accomplishments focusing on your area of expertise. Your accomplishments will allow you to distinguish yourself in your market.
Create a Networking Database
Use the power of social media sites to develop a formal and effective network database. Your database should be accurate, detailed and updated frequently because it reflects your ability to network successfully.
Have a Clear, Brief Message to Deliver
Influential people are inundated with information, it is important to be memorable. Develop a succinct, professional, yet appealing message to differentiate yourself. Your message should be goal-oriented and genuine. Make sure you incorporate common interests in your message. Your common interests are the foundation of your bond with individuals within your market; nurture your bond.
Don’t Ever Stop
Once you begin networking, sustain your momentum. Most fail at networking because they tend to start and stop building relationships. Develop a plan and put it into action. Consistently following your plan means networking becomes second nature to you; you will see the results and reap the rewards.