Widen Your Network The Old Fashioned Way

jodi-crossRecently, I was introduced to a woman whom I would call a networking dy-namo. Over the course of one lunch and the two weeks following our meet¬ing, she introduced me to a cadre of contacts, job opportunities and pro¬spective customers. When we met, she jotted down some notes then followed up with personal introductions via email.

Networking doesn’t come natu¬rally for some, those who do it well are extraordinary and make it look simple. People who are strong net-workers are passionate about life. They are inter¬ested in others, they identify common ground and genuinely make others feel important.

Here are some key’s to devel-oping your network:

Focus on the other person-engage in a meaningful conversation, ask interesting questions, listen actively, put your devices away. Make notes about your conversation. People want to associate with people who are genuine and authentic. Think about how you can make the person in front of you feel important.

Ask for what you want-when intro¬duced to a new contact ask for what you want and who you want to meet and don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t be shy, sell yourself.

Find common ground-in the case of my meeting, we realized we were both from upstate New York. You can always find something in com¬mon, you just have to be open to having a meaningful conversation. When you strike on a mutual interest, people remember you.

Engage-be committed and enthusi-astic about your life and your busi-ness Build rapport, engage with oth¬ers around you. Know your “sweet spot” so you can confidently describe what you do best and the type of businesses you are seeking. Ask them what they do best and start to consider how you might help one another.

Manners Matter-when someone sends you a lead or a referral, send them a personal note thanking them. In our fast -paced world, somehow we have lost our head when it comes to manners. Be on time, make eye contact and hand out compliments freely.

Most importantly, following up and keeping your word are the keys to being a great net worker. If you do all of the above, you are well on your way to building a strong network. Where it all falls apart is in the follow-up! The one common denominator I noticed more than anything else during my tenure working with a women’s networking group, was the lack of follow-up. I have wit-nessed 30 women in a room ac¬tively networking, even writing

things down on the back of busi-ness cards. The next day, it’s back to business as usual. I have per-sonally called, referenced the con-servation, asked for the introduc-tion to a vendor they mentioned and sent an email all to no avail. Keeping your word and doing what you said you would do, making a connection, are networking 101! I don’t know if it is insecurity, lack of confidence in the referral or what but you will have no credibil-ity if you don’t follow-up. Con¬versely, you will never get the busi¬ness you so desperately want in return.

Here’s to expanding your network!

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or Phone: (305) 439-6712

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