Gayle Hallgren-Rezac co-author Work The Pond!
The ability to do effective networking is an often overlooked leadership skill, but it’s one that will greatly assist you in getting the career you want. Ibarra and Hunter, authors of “How Leaders Create and Use Networks,” published in the January 2007 issue of The Harvard Business Review, stated that: “Networking is simultaneously one of the most self-evident and one of the most dreaded developmental challenges that aspiring leaders must address.”
Tips for Networking Effectively
Networking effectively requires getting out there and connecting with others, no matter how uncomfortable it feels. Here are some key ways you can improve your networking skills.
Practice Positive Networking™
If you practise Positive Networking you’ll find it takes the stress out of networking. Discovering what you can do for someone else is a process of learning about people. It creates natural conversation starters because you want to find out something about the other person.
Hand out Business Cards
While this hardly seems like a secret, it is. The easiest step to improve your networking skills is to stash your business cards everywhere—in the pockets of all your jackets, in your workout bag, in your car, you name it.
Make Others Feel More Comfortable
It’s important to remember that 80 percent of people are uncomfortable in networking situations. Having a host mentality, which means everything from being the person who rescues the wallflower to making sure everyone at the luncheon table is included in the conversation, makes you memorable.
Just Say Yes!
When you receive an invitation to an event, instead of making excuses why you can’t go, think again. You never know when something truly amazing might happen.
Contribute More than Your Presence
Do you have staff you’ve encouraged to go to networking events, only to have them come back and tell you, ‘I didn’t meet anyone worthwhile.’ It begs this response, ‘What did those people gain from meeting you?’ Teach your staff the skills of Positive Networking, which means asking how that event was better because of your presence.
A Cure for Networking Nervosus
Take a teammate. It beats going solo and you can be each other’s backup. A teammate can be a client, potential business associate, colleague or friend.
Follow up Fast and Be Brief
Reliability builds your good reputation. Return phone calls or emails the following day. If you promise to do something, do it right away. Everyone is busy so send short emails. If you are sending an article or information that is more than a couple of paragraphs, highlight the key information so the recipient can scan it quickly.
Be a Connector
The true sign of a great networker is being a connector. At social and business events make it a habit of introducing people to one and other if you see that they might have mutual interests or could help each other. But connecting doesn’t stop when the networking event ends; do it as a matter of habit.
The bonus of becoming more engaged and building a network is personal happiness and well being. Research shows that people who are more connected are healthier and have a greater sense of well being and happiness. So, don’t do it just for career advancement; do it for your life!
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