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Effective Everyday Business Networking

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 26 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Business Networking Contact Networking

Networking should be part of your business creed. If it’s not, then you’re not paying proper attention and making use of every opportunity in front of you. There are networking opportunities that can turn into business relationships happening all the time. You just have to recognise and make use of them.

That means a lot of focus and concentration, all day, every day. It might seem like a great deal of effort, but after a little while it becomes second nature.

What’s a Networking Opportunity?

It would be easy to say “everything,” but it would also be an exaggeration. You won’t find one when you’re paying for groceries at the supermarket, for instance. Or will you? Perhaps the line is long and you strike up a conversation with the person behind you. He’s in business, in a field associated with yours.

Now that’s an ideal opportunity. You already have a bond – the grind of being in a queue – and you can exchange cards (always carry your business cards, even at weekends) and contact each other later. The unlikeliest event has just turned into a networking opportunity.

Something like that won’t happen often, but it does happen, and you need to be alert to take advantage of it. You might not be at work, but that doesn’t mean you can switch off. You need to remain ready.

There truly are networking opportunities everywhere. Start talking in the pub and you might find one, or if you stop at motorway services.

Being Aware

A lot of it is in your mindset. If you begin looking for networking opportunities in every facet of your life, you’re going to find them on a regular basis. You simply have to keep reminding yourself that they’re there, all around you.

Train yourself to it. You spend five days a week working. All those phone calls can be networking contacts, and the same with the e-mails you reply to or send. Think how you can leverage them into real networking contacts. What can you offer them that’s useful? Think in the long term. It’s not about one call or mail, but about building a relationship with someone. Networking, ideally, should be mutually beneficial. That rarely happens overnight, and in business, just like everywhere else, relationships take time to grow, so nurture the relationship.

Applying The Lesson

Once you begin looking at things with your new attitude, you’ll start seeing plenty of networking opportunities. It takes work and energy to pursue them all, but work can be a demanding mistress if you’re doing it properly, it demands a lot of dedication, and if you’re going to be truly successful, you have to give it that.

A lot of networking isn’t in making the contacts, but following them up and developing them. That’s what separates those with an interest from those who are really determined. Make the time to follow up on each contact (use the back of their business card to make a few notes about them as a memory aid). It doesn’t need to be a major communication, just a quick e-mail or phone call to start the ball rolling. Things will grow from there.

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