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October 29, 2007

Business Women Networking Successfully

By Jennifer Towers

Networking is a key word that you will be hearing throughout your entire career. Chances are you do it now, even though you may not realize that you’re even doing it.

Growing up, no one ever told me how important it would be to make connections early on in my life in order to further my career prospects and even improve my social life. I was more or less anti-social throughout my time at university (thanks to a possessive boyfriend) and made zero friendships, which left me without any help when it came time to get a job.

If that weren’t bad enough, I didn’t know who to turn to if I needed a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant… I had no help. Luckily, I managed to land a great job on my own merits and slowly began to make connections.

Business women networking is important

In order to be successful, you need to call on the help of others and networking can help you further your career and get up that ladder more quickly.

How you go about networking, however, can make all the difference. There are unwritten rules you must follow and subtle ways to make your approach without seeming like an opportunist.

Rules of networking

Business women networking tips #1
Get their business cards
Whenever you are at a seminar, or the like, and meet someone who might be able to help you (and that you can, in turn, help as well) get their business card and make sure to remember key points of your conversation. For instance, if the person you spoke with mentions how hard it is raising two kids and working, keep that in mind for the next time you contact them.

Business women networking tips #2
Sell them on you
Instead of talking about how they might be able to help you, your mission should be to let them in on what a great asset you can be to their business. Most people prefer to receive rather than give, so by illustrating what you can offer, their giving back will seem more like second nature.

Business women networking tips #3
Don’t talk forever

When you meet a potential contact, don’t spend the whole evening with them. Your objective should be to introduce yourself and speak with them just long enough for them to remember you and for you to make your exit on a high note. The last thing you want is to annoy anyone and have them discard your business card.

There are other people around and not only should you try to make other contacts, but they probably want to get conversations going with other people as well.

Business women networking tips #4
Give your business card
Carry your business card everywhere you go because you never know when an opportunity will present itself. And when you give it to someone, give them a moment to look at it and take in what it says and who you are. If necessary, write something on it about what you’ve discussed, that way they’ll know that you don’t hand your card off to just anyone.

Business women networking tips #5
Store the information

Once you get home or to work, make sure to place the information in a localized area (Palm, Blackberry, online contacts list, etc.) in order to have everything you need at the drop of a hat. Include things about the person that will help you remember who they are and feel free to jot down things about your last conversation to demonstrate that they were memorable when you recount a past conversation.

Business women networking tips #6
Call just to say hi

If you call someone only when you need something, they won’t like it. But if you call about once every two weeks to see how they’re doing and ask about the kids, when it comes time to ask about a favor, they won’t be as defensive or insulted because you dedicated some time to developing a relationship first.

Business women networking tips #7
Ask for help with a compliment
If you need an accountant’s help but don’t want to leave one of your limbs with the secretary once the job is completed, calling up one of your “buddies” for assistance is ideal. Starting out with “I need some advice about a money situation and I thought who better to call than Dan…” will serve to make him feel like a star and you less needy about the whole situation.

Business women networking tips #8
Show appreciation for any help

If Dan managed to help you clear up the accounting problem in no time, show him your appreciation by sending him a box of chocolates or even a pizza with a thank you note. Everyone likes to be appreciated and if you make a public display of it, it only helps his ego and you… the next time you need a favor.

Business women networking

When it comes to making connections, you need to understand that nothing is free. You need to be consistent in showing your appreciation and ensure that every individual feels like an individual and not a number in your presence.

That is the key to being a successful networker: Keep the lines of communication open and make ‘em feel like celebrities.

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