If the word “networking” makes you want to curl into a ball, Diane Darling, author of “The Networking Survival Guide” — now in its second edition — says it doesn’t need to be that way. Here are some tips everyone can implement immediately:
Start from a position of strength
Too often people go out and try to randomly meet a bunch of new people. This is exhausting for many (especially for introverts) and often unproductive. Begin with your fan club. Who has helped you before, and vice versa?
Practice ‘hybrid networking’
It’s most effective when you combine social networking and traditional networking (attending events, having a coffee, etc.). Like a hybrid car, there isn’t a moment when the engine shuts off and restarts. Also, if you don’t like events, serve on a board and meet people that way. Networking is not a “one size fits all.”
You never know
The “kid” in jeans may be a millionaire, and the person in the business suit may be broke. It’s unlikely your first impression of someone is always right. Be open-minded and realize that the best person to talk with may not be the most obvious.
What goes online, stays online
This can be good or bad. If you’re frustrated, don’t say it online unless you’re willing to have your grandmother or your kids read it. Social-networking sites are researched before promotions are given or vendors are hired. Be wise and be happy!
Most of your networking time and energy should be focused on following up with people you’ve had some contact with. Even if they aren’t spending money with you, they may be great referral sources or ambassadors.