The business of networking

People skills are needed to be a good professional

People skills are needed to be a good professional  

Most major career moves depend on one's ability to network. Find out how

BUSINESS IS all about networking, and networking is a serious business. It is the most powerful way to build professional relationships, activate contacts for mutual benefit and disseminate information.

The time when a fresh graduate joined a company and retired from the same one is a thing of the past. An executive, it is estimated, changes jobs at least three to five times during his/her active professional life. For this to happen, you had better know how to network, what are the dos and don'ts, and understand that people skills, personality and the ability to communicate are the prerequisites. In short, you need to know how to get along with people for them to allow you to be on the "network" scene.

Did you know that a whopping 70 per cent of all jobs are found through networking (personal contacts)? This in itself is enough reason to build and maintain a network.

Building a network

So, how do you build a network? Statistics state that most people personally know at least 250 others, and have even more acquaintances! Start with making a list and what you know about each one on it. When you finish, don't sit back and relax.

The operating word here is "build", which translates to getting out and being seen in industry get-togethers, activating association memberships and actually showing up for those association meetings, company outings, etc.

Opting to sit at home could mean missing the boat! Go out of your way to meet every single person that you have the opportunity to meet and, it goes without saying, learn how to introduce yourself effectively.

Once you build it, you have to work hard to maintain it. Any relationship needs to be worked on and maintained consciously. In order to do that, remember some general networking codes of behaviour.

* Listen more and talk less and while talking, don't be a "know it all".

* Exchange business cards only when and where they are appropriate. They are not flyers to be handed to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Same thing goes for collecting cards.

* Pay attention to grooming and dress appropriately to suit the occasion.

* Be outgoing and make conversation.

* Work on remembering people's names.

* Find your common ground (interests, life experiences, occupations... ) and build upon it.

* Brush up your telephone etiquette.

* Always be mindful of your language and manners.

* Definitely, keep your drinking to the absolute minimum.

* Don't ever use people or be dishonest about your motivations and intentions.

* Refrain from dropping names and implying connections you don't have.

* Curb your curiosity to pry into others' business.

* Don't ever speak negatively about other people or companies, however tempting it might be.

* And finally, don't forget to send `thank you' and follow-up notes to acknowledge anyone who was particularly helpful to you, spent considerable time on the phone or in person with you, or gave you a lead or referral (whether it worked or not).

Now, you have your work cut out for you. Best of luck!


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