Power of Networking
Estimated Lesson Time: 3 minutes
Nowadays, when most people hear the word “networking” they think of interconnected computers or getting their computer connected to the Internet. Long before the advent of the Internet, and even before computers, there was another type of networking; the type where one interacts or engages in informal communication with others for mutual assistance or support. This form of networking is responsible for the success of many individuals and businesses today.
Throughout history, fortunes have been made by people who got their first big break by “a friend of a friend” or other similar contact. These contacts were generally made by networking. By networking with others, you are benefiting in two ways: 1) you are introducing your product or service to another and 2) you are being introduced to others who offer products and services that you may someday require. Additionally, many people use networking to form partnerships or alliances in business. It is a great way to meet like-minded people with the same goals. Networking is a true win-win situation.
Prior to the Internet, networking was almost all done face to face. However, with today’s technology networking can be done virtually without having to leave the comfort of your own home. The Internet is full of discussion groups, chat rooms and organizations whose members join for the sole purpose of networking with others. Virtual networking is a great complement to traditional networking but should not be the only source of networking. There is something about face-to-face contact that cannot be achieved by virtual networking.
Here are some tips for effective networking:
- Let everyone know what you do. Be proud of what you do and don’t hesitate to tell others about it. Give out business cards to people you meet.
- Keep a personal contacts file. Keep a file on everyone you meet. The more information you can collect, the better. Most important, keep a record of what they do because someday they may be of service to you.
- Expose yourself! Join meetings, groups, functions, chat rooms, forums—any avenue that allows you to network with others. The more exposure you have, the more contacts you can make. Check out toastmasters.org.
- Become an expert in your field. Once you are known as an expert in your field, your reputation will precede you. You will be able to benefit from the power of networking without even having to network!
- Give a little. Offer free advice, suggestions, and help. Look for opportunities to write articles or speak in public. Believe that the more you give, the more you will get in return.
- Express interest in those with whom you network. The best question to ask is, “So, what keeps you busy during the day?” This is an open-ended question that encourages those you meet to talk about themselves and what interests them. This is a great way to find out how others may be able to help you, as well as getting other people to like you.
- Use the 75/25 rule. When networking with others, allow them to talk about themselves and what they do 75% of the time and only spend 25% of the time talking about yourself and what you do. In their minds, it will seem more like 50/50. Remember, you learn nothing by listening to yourself talk.
It is that one contact that often begins one’s unstoppable series of successes. We, of course, cannot always know who that contact will be, but we can play the numbers game and network with as many people as possible. It is through networking one finds opportunity and through opportunity one finds success.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)