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Networking Know-How

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Networking Know-how
5 Steps to Success

Networking is the lifeblood of any business. But it’s Called networking for a reason. You’ve got to get out there and put in concentrated time and effort to build your personal and industry contacts. Here’s how to network smart.

 



      


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For more networking know-how tips check out chapter five of The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion into Profit—How To Find & Grow Your Side Hustle in Any Economy (Amistad/ HarperCollins) by Kimberly Seals Allers on sale everywhere January 2009. 

 

 

Networking Know-how
5 Steps to Success

Networking is the lifeblood of any business. But it’s Called networking for a reason. You’ve got to get out there and put in concentrated time and effort to build your personal and industry contacts. Here’s how to network smart.

You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who won’t shout at the top of their lungs about the power of networking. Nothing beats personal connections, a referral, and expanding your Rolodex of contacts in your industry. There are two levels of networking. There’s your personal network and there are the trade shows and industry events you attend to build your industry network. Every woman I interviewed as part of the research for this book said that networking was an invaluable skill that saved their bacon many times. It is the life blood of any business. Many black women have a personality advantage in the networking game, we tend to be social creatures and somewhat outgoing. Plus, most of us have learned to master the real game—the white people game. Whether they are co-workers, school friends, or neighbors we have a unique experience with fitting in, understanding what makes someone ticks, and establishing some common ground. These are all valuable assets in playing the networking game. Let’s be clear, networking is not socializing. There is a social aspect to networking, but networking is results-oriented whether directly (I want something from you now!) or indirectly (I may want something from you later). There are strategies to execute, rules of engagement, and goals to be met, or else you’re just making calls and hanging out.

What to Do:
Before we can get into action there may be some of you who are battling shyness, a lack of confidence or something else that impedes your networking power. The first thing to remember is that you do have power, and your business needs you to unleash it and harness it for your personal and business success. More good news—research shows that shyness is a learned behavior that can actually be un-learned. As a child you may wander over to someone at a play area, introduce yourself and play. No problem! But as we get older, we experience rejection—that doesn’t feel so good—so we “shy” away from being friendly. If shyness is a challenge for you, start by striking up a conversation with a stranger in the elevator just before you have to get off. Try saying something quick and easy like, “have a nice day,” or “great shoes.”

  1. Quality vs. quantity – The number of people you know does not matter. It is the quality of your contacts that does. Who are the decision makers? Influencers? Who can you help and how?
  2. Slow down – Business relationships take time. Get to know people not only from a business perspective but from a personal perspective too.
  3. Go low tech – In some cases, a quick phone call can be more efficient than many emails. Pick up the phone and even find time to meet face-to-face. Email is excellent when sending documents or directions – don’t overuse it.
  4. Seek diversity – Make sure you have a diverse network of connections.
  5. Introductions rule! – When someone takes time out of their day to make the effort to introduce you, it is the ultimate flattery. This separates name droppers from the genuine networkers.

 

 

 

 

 


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