Networking basics

Companies don’t hire people, people hire people. But how do you get to know the right people? Here are some networking strategies that can get you started.

1) You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Positive networking is all about jumping in and getting your feet wet… You have to do a lot of it, and your chances of being a better networker improve as you meet more frogs. (so)… happily kiss more frogs and find more princes or princesses.”

2) “Discover what you can do for someone else” is the cornerstone philosophy of positive networking. Bring two people together at an event- introduce them to each other. Speak to people who are too shy to meet others. Say complimentary things to them: “I’ve heard very good things about your company’s products…” Pass on some information or a contact name that would help someone. Tell someone about your product or service if you think it would be of use to them.
Remember that the distant contacts can be more powerful than close friends. More than 80% of the time, people who find jobs through networking find them through weak connections- acquaintances rather than close friends. Constantly build and maintain your network.

3) Always carry business cards, at least seven of them with you at all times. Stash them everywhere-pockets, wallets, car, etc. A graphic design can make them eye catching but make sure that the print is large enough to be read easily. When introdcing yourself, mention your name, give out your business card and ask others for theirs if they haven’t already offered one. Then look at their card and mention something about it (E.g. “I see you are a biomedical engineer…”)

4) Treat everyone as equals- when meeting, practice the 4 E’s:
Establish eye contact, smile, focus on the person
Extend your hand and shake (firmly)
Exchange business cards
Engage in conversation. Give 100% of your attention to whomever you are speaking to.
Use people’s names three times in conversation- once when you meet them and two times soon afterwards.
Give everyone permission to network: be open to people and let them into your network. Learn the power of asking questions- ask about the other person (E.g. tell me a little bit about what you do?). Feel free to offer your own introduction: practice your elevator pitch ahead of time!

5) Know what is going on. Spend at least 45 minutes per day reading local, national and international news. You should also read business sections of the daily newspapers and local business magazines. Be engaging, be informed , be a good listener and ask good questions

6) Opportunity to network is everywhere in both social and business situations. Engage in small talk at a party. Join associations and organizations in your field. Volunteer your time and give back to the community.

7) Approach networking in pairs. Find a business associate, friend or family member who can accompany you to networking events. You are a team working together. Keep an aye on each other-don’t sit or stand too close to each other, or too far away- and come to the other’s rescue if needed. Don’t be afraid to be bold and take risks. Introduce yourself to people you want to meet. Ask questions at lectures or workshops. Contribute your thoughts in conversations

8) Follow up and keep networking! When someone helps you, show your appreciation with a hand written note. Use holidays as special occasions to send cards and stay in touch. And do keep your network alive over time. Continue to be available to support others in their endeavors.

Adapted from:
The Frog and Prince: Secrets of Positive Networking
By Darcy Rezac, with Judy Thomson and Gayle Hallgren, 2003

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