By one of my frequent guest contributors, MJ Gilhooley:
In order to determine exactly what we even mean by Networking, let’s go to good old Webster’s Dictionary for a definition.
Definition: Networking – The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups or institutions.
The meaning today is still as broad as it was back in 1997 when my dictionary was published. The difference today is the staggering options and platforms for exchange of information. The bottom line is that Networking is a vital tool for gathering information, meeting the right people and an essential for business success.
Know Your Objectives
Before you head out to play golf or explore the blogosphere, know your objectives. Are you trying to get more traffic to your website, get a contract signed, grow revenues or margins, you must know your end goal.
Maximize your networking time, speak clearly, truthfully and with confidence about your talents, skills, what you can give and what you want to get.
Find out what your contacts want instead of trying to sell them. Heed their advice, observe details about them, learn about their backgrounds, their successes, their challenges and their professional choices.
Give people access to your information, follow-up by making a call or sending an email thanking them for providing the chance to learn more about them. Send a web link of interest and maybe attach a personal capabilities document to an email. Maybe even send a hand written note via the mail. Invest in the contact, have faith that results will come.
Having a fresh and effective web presence is critical today. It is where all of your contacts will go to learn more about you. Get a bio up on a web page, a blog with your writing, a profile in one of the social media services. People check out people these days through search engines, get yourself searchable!
Your content is king. It represents you, your company, your capabilities and personality. People like doing business with people they like, give them something to like about you.
Networking is a 24/7 Job
Networking today means making contact through all available channels, from your web presence to your kids soccer games. Test your messages, experiment to find the right recipe for networking that will work for you. Remember your objectives, find the channels that you enjoy networking within, measure your results.
MJ Gilhooley, runs Gilhooey Consulting Inc. out of Ohio, USA. When she is not speaking or running seminars, she juggles two young boys and a busy PR marketing agency. She has published hundreds of articles in both academic and industry trade magazines. Her firm develops creative integrated materials and strategies designed to help businesses grow. She is active in many non-profits involving the homeless and at risk youth. Learn more about MJ at www.gilhooleyconsulting.com.
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