Gearing Up for Gritty Times… Reaping the Benefits of Business Networking

business networkingMy friend, Susan RoAne, wrote this article and I enjoyed it so much, I asked permission to share it with you.

Author and editor, Michael Korda, wrote that one thing we must have by 40 is a network of people we know. Whether we are twenty four, forty or qualify as members of AARP, the advice still rings true.  I called it our SAFETY NET in The Secrets of Savvy Networking and likened it to that safety net that firefighters use to save people.  The current business and economic times are much like walking that tightrope on high.  The fall can only be protected by a safety net—work of friends, colleagues, acquaintances and clients.  All those people we encounter in all facets of our life are part of that safety net.

None of this is new. In fact, it’s same-old, same-old, What is new is that part of our safety net is online in business and social networking sites liked Linked In or Facebook. But our networking cannot be limited to internet interaction. We must be active off-line in “our space”.

Just as important as our business network is to us in TRUE GRITty times is that we are part and parcel of the safety nets of others. We have information, sources, ideas, leads, expertise that supports our contacts, friends and colleagues in their potential free fall from the grace of a business, a job or a career.

What to do to ensure the strength of our safety network?   NETWORK as if it’s your source of oxygen.

  1. Identify who you know. Some of those people are in online networks but others are not.  Get a clear picture of who you know from all facets of your life.  It may sound remedial but write those names down. Use your PDA, contact management program or, go retro, and get out a blank piece of paper and pencil.
  2. Re-connect. Whether you send an email, text or call, be sure to stay in touch.  A bonus tip:  Do so when things are going well and you need nothing.  But if things are looking shaky (you are not getting enough referrals, the company you work for is downsizing, clients are not beating a path to your door), re-connect.
  3. Stay visible.  Online sources are fabulous and today’s social media affords us great opportunities to be connected to others.  BUT the meat of the matter starts to sizzle when we MEET, face – to – face.  SHOW UP at local networking events, your chamber, the Rotary,  BNI, community and charity events, and fundraisers, etc.. That is the heart and soul of How To Work A Room®.  So much more happens when we shake hands, laugh, converse and share a beverage or a meal.  Face to face communication offers a connection that has depth that inspires us to want to help our dinner, beer or coffee mate.
  4. Offer/ASK for ideas, leads, referrals, assistance of any type. Research indicates that we feel good when we help others. By the same token, they will feel good when they can help us. This is not only a business networking tip but also a lifestyle lesson.
  5. Follow-through. That is the key to the kingdom. Without it, nothing happens. We don’t expand our network, develop new ideas or build relationships. Send the email, the text message or, better yet, be different and use your phone to make a call. The phone is two-way communication and allows for a dialogue rather than some words on a screen that could easily be misinterpreted.
  6. Keep people in the loop. Let people know the progress of their suggestion, referral, lead or advice. It’s the savvy and considerate thing to do.  NO ONE likes to find out that a lead produced a job, client or membership in an organization from the grapevine. That doesn’t reflect well on us.
  7. Acknowledge all good deeds done on your behalf.  Giving thanks is a given. When the good times come around, you’ll have a great network in place and some wonderful friends you’ve made along the way.

BONUS Tip:  Be nice, be kind, be generous.  Why?  Why not?  It costs nothing and the ROI is tremendous.

© 2009 RoAne. All rights reserved.

The above information is based on Face To Face: How To Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World by Fireside, Simon and Schuster, Oct. 08.
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