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September 2011


Networking Skills

Networking is more than the ability to "work a room" at a business function.  It is understanding what other people need and want and how you can provide it for them.  It is determining what abilities others have which might benefit you and your organization, and knowing how to ask for their help. 

Do you want to become better at networking?  Focus on these areas:

Key Strategies

1. Build Confidence

No one is going to trust you to help them, or want to help you, unless you appear confident.  The simplest way to improve is to "Fake it till you make it."  Act as if you believe in yourself, no one can tell the difference. 

If you are not confident in your company, find another one, you cannot fake that and I wouldn't advise that you try.

2. Ask Better Questions

The majority of the time you will want to ask open-ended questions, ones that cannot be answered "yes" or "no."  The best way to do this is to begin each sentence with one of the following:  who, when, where, what, why, how.

Have a script of five-to-ten standard questions that you always ask.  Then ask them.

3. Become A Better Listener

Use a stopwatch if you have to, but make certain you are speaking less than one third of the time.  This is the best-known method.

Remember that most listening is done with your eyes.  Their non-verbal body language will tell you more than their words ever will.  So learn to watch for key behaviors and visual cues that tell you what kind of help they need but are sometimes afraid to ask for.

4. Follow Up

No matter how many times you hear these words it cannot be enough.  And be creative, everyone sends thank you notes.

Send personalized notes, hand written, with your business card enclosed (in case they have lost or misplaced it.  Call, just to make sure the proposal arrived.  Call a week later, just to see if any questions have come up. 

5. Be The First To Offer Help

Everyone has something they need help with.  Even if you are not the one to help, be the one who suggests where to find the help.

The key phrase is "how can I help?"  When someone sees a valuable resource offering to further their cause with no-strings attached, you'll be surprised the relationships that can be built.

6. What Goes Around Comes Around

Someday you will be the one needing help.  If you are not putting in, you cannot take out.



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