Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bernie's Networking Top Tips: Part 1

Networking is more than just a buzzword. It's probably the best opportunity you will ever have to make connections, build relationships and help yourself and others in the networking group succeed. Networking with like-minded individuals is also a great way to explore new career options, learn more about a specific industry, gather insights from peers on critical business issues and grow professionally.

Networking With a Goal in Mind
Think about what you want to accomplish by joining a particular networking group.
Are you looking for a job, trying to develop new business or do you want to expand your network of contacts and become known as the go-to person in the industry?
You can choose to be either an active or passive member of the group, but will get the most out of the experience by regularly attending and participating in the activities.
Once you decide on the networking group that matches your goals, you can immediately increase your visibility by volunteering to participate on a committee.
Access and Exposure
According to Executive Career Consultant Kathleen Jennings, of The Jennings Company, "It's not who you know, it's who knows you."
Joining a professional networking group is an opportunity for you to gain access and exposure to people you might not otherwise meet: a company executive in an industry that you've always wanted to learn more about, a keynote speaker who's an expert in your field, and yes, even someone who may be in a position to offer you a job, or who can connect you to the hiring manager at a company where you've always wanted to work.
You can find out when and where networking groups meet by scanning the business-events section of your local newspaper or business weekly. Visit the website of the networking group before going to the first event to learn more about their members, mission and focus. Armed with this information, you can go to the next breakfast, lunch, or after-hours function prepared with questions for the members and guests you introduce yourself to at the meeting.
Stay Connected Between Meetings
The internet is a great tool to use to stay visible and connected to your networking group between meetings. You can:
  • Search on the internet for the name of the person you're planning on meeting for that informational interview.
  • Forward a link to an article of interest to the new member you met at the last function.
  • Send an email with contact information for a referral.
  • Post a reply to a request on the group's message board.

There's a fine line between being seen as a resource and being seen as a spam artist; don't send excessive or inappropriate email. Make sure that your contacts between meetings are relevant and pertinent to the business at hand.

Don't just take it from us, see what these women in business had to say about the importance of networking:
Subscribe or visit our blog regularly for more of Bernie's top tips and other handy business hints and tricks, including guest blogs from business services, business related articles and client success stories. 

Blog by Bernie Cox, Training Co-ordinator

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