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Should I network to get work?


Networking has always been my principal marketing tool helping me find someof my 'best' clients. So I was surprised when I heard that trainers and HR people really dreaded the whole process of networking outside their own group of fellow professionals.  However if they realised the benefits  they would soon see if worth the effort to overcome the fears or innertia you might experience.

For free lancers and interims networking should always be part of the marketing mix.  However the relationships formed can often be stronger and longer lasting than many simple friendships.  I belong to a group which meets weekly for breakfast.  It has no rules or regulations no huge membership fee structures – you just pay when you go.  It has such a good turnout every week and you know people are there because they want to be there and they want to help others through introductions and through sharing experiences.

Good networkers are those who prepare for the meetings, who set themselves objectives such as introducing yourself to three new people or thinking about people you know to whom you could refer others.  The simplest way to prepare is to first check if the organisers have a delegate list of possible attendees.  If they do you can highlight the people you want to meet.  You also need to create a simple database listing new contacts and what they have to offer together with their contact details.

When you arrive at the meeting, if you are nervous of going into a room full of people arrive early.  Wear a badge of your own making if none are provided – people appreciate seeing your name when first you meet.  It saves them the embarrassment of admitting they may have forgotten.  Be strong and do go up to the first group of people you see.  Introduce yourself and ask if you can join them.  In all the years I have been meeting new people no one has ever said No.  However once you are in you must remember to move on and repeat the process in order to meet all those people you committed yourself to meet.  Do beware the elevator speech it can be very tiresome.  Concentrate on asking other people questions about what they do,  listen to their answers and search your mind for people you know who might be good for your new friend to meet.  That’s networking.

Finally business cards should not be used like confetti.  Only give a card to some one who especially asks for it.  And there is no harm in asking them why they want it?  They may have someone they want to pass it onto or they may just like collecting cards!

And afterwards …..So often people miss out on this bit.  Go back to your desk, add all the interesting people you met at the event to your database and email a couple just to say it was good to meet and you hope to meet them again.  If you use Twitter follow them and invite them to connect with you on Linkedin.  The first stage of building a relationship has just begun.

If you haven't tried it yet do take a chance on it...You have nothing to lose and a lot to win.

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