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Article :: Seven Rules for Effective Networking

Category: Other
By: Praveeni Perera

Seven rules for effective networking

Networking is one of the most important tools professionals can use to increase their reach within the corporate community. According to researchers at Harvard Business School 65-80% of positions are filled through networking alone, and many of these positions are not made public.


Here's my take on rules for effective networking:


1. Don't discount handshakes: A handshake is your first physical interaction with someone and it takes more time to recover from a bad handshake than it does to give a good one.


2. No complaints: Do not complain about anything to people you meet at a networking event. You may be having a horrible day but complaining about it to people you just met won't get you anywhere. Always keep conversations on a positive note and avoid any negative news or topics.


3. Don't be selfish : Networking is not a solo sport! You should network to help others and not just yourself. If you bear only your own interests in mind contacts will realize that they see no benefit in staying connected with you. Always aim to establish a symbiotic relationship with your business contacts.


4. Stay connected : Aim to establish weak ties as opposed to strong ties. Weak ties are contacts that are more acquaintances than friends. With friends we establish strong ties and often times have the same mutual friends and similar access to information resulting in an inbred network. Weak ties are established by touching base with contacts once or twice a month via email or LinkedIn. Make sure your keep message content relevant to your working relationship.


5. Diversify your network : An effective network will enable you to have access to many different people and their skill sets. The key to this is diversity. While looking to fill your network you should strive to meet people in sectors and industries that differ from your own. By creating a diversified network you will have access to varying skill sets that complement and even challenge your own. This will be helpful building cross-industrial and even cross-cultural working relationships.


6. Get carded : One of the most important things you need to pass on aside from your name and designation is your contact information. It's crucial to carry an adequate amount of business cards when attending networking events. Passing on your business card is not only a means of passing on your contact information it's also a means of requesting information from a new contact; passing on your card will prompt the other to give out his/her card in 99% of cases. It's also a great exit strategy to leave one group and move on to another. Always pass on your card with a leading statement such as "Here's my card do keep in touch".


7. Evaluate your network : It's important to know your network and be aware of the contacts you have and which contacts you'd like to have. Make a list of your top 10-15 contacts and what sectors they're involved in. If you find the bulk of your contacts are from the same sector you may have an inbred network thus you need to diversify. If your network is already diversified you need to watch for dilution and make sure you streamline your network in order to have a balanced mix of contacts from your own and differing sectors.

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