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How Can I Be Intentional About Networking?

Yesterday’s post was about visibility and being able to promote yourself.   One of the ways of doing that is through networking and connecting with others.  The word networking can sometimes bring up anxiety for people who are more introverted.  Walking into a room of people that they don’t know and having a conversation with any of them sounds worse than having a root canal.   Having a plan and knowing what to say may help to eliminate some of that anxiety.

I attended a presentation about 6 years ago on networking by David J.P. Fisher of a company called Rock-Star Consulting.  He shared some great tips of how to think about what you would say and also what your mindset should be as you walk in the room.  His definition of networking was ” building a series of relationships with other business people to enlist their help in spreading the message about your business needs, as well as doing the same for them.”  In short, you help me and I help you.   His steps on how to network included: Create a Plan, Meet People, Build Relationships, Give Help and Ask for Help.   Here are some ideas that I have seen work effectively for me and for others.

Create a Plan –

Who do you want to meet at the event?  Check out the list of attendees if you can access it.  Look at their LinkedIn Profiles so you can see their picture and what they do.  Focus on the ones that you are most interested in connecting with and think about what you want to get out of connecting with them.

Meet People –

Where are the people hanging out that you want to meet?  Identify the organizations that they would belong to or other events that they could attend.  The list could include affinity groups, charity organizations or interest groups.

Build Relationships –

Do you have anything in common with any of the people on the list?  You both have the same connection in LinkedIn, worked at the same place or went to the same school?  Just something that can be used as a good ice breaker to start to build a relationship.

Give Help –

What help could you provide to someone at the event?  Listen to the conversation and see if there is something that you can do to help them or connect them to someone else who can.  Be helpful to others and see that they may return the favor someday.

Ask for Help –

What things do you need help on?  Do they have a contact at a company you are interested in or do they know someone who can help you in an area that you are struggling in?   Leverage the group of people in the room.   People will help you if you ask them for what you need.

Networking is key to finding a job, finding new clients and learning from each other.  Being intentional about it and having a plan gives you the opportunity to target your conversations with those people that are the most beneficial for you.  Tomorrow’s post will focus on what to say once you connect with people at the event.   Thursday’s post will focus on how to network with people virtually.

I have created a free resource if you are looking for ideas on how to self-promote and get more visibility.  You can download it for free from this link:  http://susanmbarber.com/visibility-for-leaders/

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