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Networking is a way of life. Everyone networks. Networking is a prime requisite to build contacts and flourish in a professional environment. Whether you are looking for an insurance agent, an auto mechanic or a consultant, you are likely to ask your friends, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations. When you approach networking as part of your lifestyle, it requires a more structured, deliberate approach, but it ultimately boils down to talking with other people, expanding your circle of contacts, gathering information and hopefully connecting with “decision makers” who you may potentially do business with.
Unless you do the necessary networking, your circle of contacts will not grow thereby limiting your exposure. When the economy is good, networking is important. In tough times or tough job markets, networking is essential.
How does one go about networking so that they are able to improve their contact lists and their business? Here are some points that will help take your business forward with the right networking techniques.
Exposure is a prime requisite for networking. You have to make yourself and your business known to potential clients. This can happen only when you step outside of your comfort zone and network. Go out and meet people that are bound to show an interest in your business. The best place to meet these types of people would be a seminar, conference, trade fair, exhibitions, etc that revolve around your nature of business. If you are considering a career change, you must understand the industry you are targeting.
When you meet people for the first time, their tone of voice and other nonverbal cues can tell you a lot. Are they shy or outgoing? What does their clothes, suggest about their personality? Networking is often the best way to gather the information you need to build your circle of influence.
Communication is the Key
There is more to communications than words, and you will have to master a diverse set of self-expression skills if you want to succeed in networking and in business. You must develop the art of communication. The purpose of communication is to express thoughts, ideas and feelings to others, in a way that they will understand. The key to good communication therefore, has little to do with the size of your vocabulary, and much to do with your ability to share your meaning with others. Do you know how to express yourself clearly? Remember, how you say something is as important as what you say. Tone, inflection and facial expressions account for 93% of your message, with the actual words accounting for only the remaining 7%.
Learn to Listen
While expressing yourself is of utmost importance that you utilize the skill of listening to others without interrupting or without judgment. When you imagine life from another person’s perspective, including "mirroring" their posture, vocal traits and habits of thought, you enhance your ability to find mutual similarities. The most crucial tip is that you can find a point of similarity with anyone, no matter how different he or she seems from you, if you believe you can make a connection. Learn to listen carefully and, then, once you uncover that similarity, you can build on it to communicate.
Keep in Touch
People often have the tendency to forget people and what they do. So, in order to keep them informed continuously, keep in touch with them through various means that are available. Social media communication tools are the modern-day “campfire”; they encourage people to gather online and interact. Also, if you have something like a newsletter or some knowledge based information that you can share with them, send it to them so that they will be aware of your product or services and approach you when the time arises.
Networking is highly important for your business to improve and flourish. The more you increase your circle of contacts, the more people that can become aware of what you do and your chances of improving your business will increase multifold.