Do you have any idea how many people you actually know? Kristen Wolf tells us that scientists have researched this question and discovered that on average a person knows roughly 2,000 people. And, he or she stays in contact with 500 of them on a regular basis. Who makes up the 2,000 people? Friends, families, colleagues, neighbors, clients, teachers, hairdressers, accountants and lawyers are among this group.
Networking, or creating contacts with people, strangers or acquaintances alike, has become a popular way of doing business in the last five years. Take a look around and you will see ever-increasing opportunities to meet people from all walks of life. Whether you are a business-owner, seeking work or already working, networking is a staple. It’s a fact that well-networked individuals have greater job security, will find new employment faster and have a steady stream of
prospects in the pipe line.
So, how does it work? First, you attend networking events. If you have never done so, ask a friend or associate to come along. If you don’t know where to go, check with people and find out where they network. You can check local papers, do a Google or Yahoo search of your area or call local chambers or business associations. Networking events are a bit like dances. If you are an introvert, then you will need good strategies for meeting new people. If you are an extrovert, you’ll take to networking easily.
Regardless of your personality type, there are rules about networking. And, even if you come home from a networking event feeling pretty good because your pockets are bulging with others’ business cards, you must follow up in order to turn those contacts into customers, clients or careers. Networking is about building relationships, which occurs over time. Just as with family and friends, the way to build and maintain relationships is to keep in touch.
Here are a few tips that will help you make the most of networking:
Most important, enjoy yourself and be yourself. There is no need to put on an act when meeting new people. You will click with some and not with others. That’s okay! You can’t network with everyone.
1. Write a simple note after you meet someone with whom you want to stay in touch. Handwritten notes are opened right away and it’s harder to throw them away. You've seen such notes tacked on bulletin boards. Be brief and mention something about your conversation that trigger the receiver's memory about you and where you met.
2. When you update your business card, send a new card to your contacts.
3. Update contacts on the progress and outcome of referrals they have given you. Send a thank you note or small gift for referrals.
4. Make matches. Put people together who can be helpful to each other or who have something in common. Ask them to let you know how the connection turned out. People who are known for their ability to make matches will receive more referrals from strangers.
Always give referral or support. There is plenty of work for all of us and it is always nice to be remembered as a generous giver. And, remember to have fun. It won’t take long before you become a seasoned, successful networker.
Barbara Schwarck leads Clear Intentions, an international people development company that offers Neuro Emotional Coaching™, training and assessment services to leaders and professionals who want to create exciting new possibilities for their future. To find out more about how to get rid of your leaky roofs or any other triggers or get a copy of Barbara’s book called From Intuition to Entrepreneurship: A Women’s Guide to Following Her Dream, visiting www.clearintentions.net.