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November 11, 2011 / Social Business Media Managers

NETWORKING. . .IT’S NOT AN “I” FUNCTION

How many different meetings and networking opportunities do you attend in a given week or month? How successful do you feel you are in using the opportunities to create working relationships? How many times are you at a coffee shop or restaurant or shopping and do not take the opportunity to say hello to someone new? As you go through your day, do you take the time to say something to people or to even smile at them? Do you take the time to compliment someone? Do you say thank you to people who serve you or check you out the registers? Do you make a comment to them something even as simple as “have an awesome day”?

It becomes a habit not to take the time, yet a simple hello or smile or thank you may lead you to an outstanding networking opportunity. If you simply began by saying hello, smiling, saying thank you or giving compliment, it then becomes a positive habit and in time makes it easier for you to continue to meet others. It can become a way of creating a broader base of networking for you. Think of it as the beginning of a conversation if you want and begin by saying hello, nice day (if appropriate), how is your day going, or just a simple comment about the day or weather or something that you want to say. This may or may not lead to a conversation but it at least acknowledges a person exist in your space for that brief moment in time. If it opens a conversation it may give you an opportunity to see if this person may benefit from your particular business venture or it may be just meeting a new acquaintance.

Networking is about establishing connections to people and creating a friendly relationship. It is a way of expanding your sphere of influence and a means for helping others reach their goals. Networking is not an I function; it is not about you or your business opportunity. It is about the other person. It is about who they are and what they do within their world. It is a process of gaining new acquaintances, associates, friends, customers, clients, positive relationships and gaining an understanding of other people.

In short, networking comes down to these salient points: a way of extending yourself to others; about listening to others and talking less; asking questions of the person that allows you to know more about them in a short period; and allowing people to talk about themselves. The most important part of a networking opportunity is to follow-up with the people you met. You can meet for coffee, lunch, at their office or a place you both feel comfortable. You take the initiative for making the call or sending the invitation to meet. You allow them to suggest a time and place so they feel they have some control of the meeting location. The purpose of the follow-up is to show if there is an opportunity to create a business relationship. It may be that the only thing that you can do is to become a resource of referrals for each other. The best outcome is developing a synergistic business relationship. Here are some major points to consider about networking and some sample questions you can use to get started with a conversation (summary of networking areas):

• Networking is about being genuine and authentic
• What your goals are in participating in networking meeting
• Ask open-ended questions in conversations
• Become known as a powerful resource
• Have a clear understanding of what you do and why
• What makes your doing special
• Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you
• Follow through on referrals (and)
• Let people know you enjoyed meeting them with a call, email or card

Remember to enjoy the event that you are participating and make it a fun-filled and productive time. It is not about you, but the people you meet.

Lonnie G. Juarez, Jr. Ph.D
Albuquerque, NM 87104

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