How to Network Like a Pro

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Balance New and Old Techniques

NetworkingAre you one of those people who never meets a stranger? Perhaps you're more comfortable knowing only a few people but knowing them well. It doesn't matter what your personality is, you can learn to network like a pro. Networking is a valuable way to build your client base, add customers, build your brand, achieve growth and take your business to the next level. But it can be difficult to keep up with new networking trends as technology advances and our world becomes more wired. Don't worry; many tried and true networking methods are still effective, especially since people find increased value in personal interactions. Using a mix of new and old networking techniques can help you build your business network and, in turn, your business. Check out the techniques experts say are the best investment in your networking time.

  • Set networking goals. To establish a business network that will benefit you, you must first decide what you want to get out of networking. If it's simply to say you know people, then it is probably not worth your time. An example of a good goal is networking in order to gain referrals, to build your brand or to increase clients.
  • Focus on relationships. With a purpose in mind, you can see how relationships rather than contacts will best boost your business. A desk drawer full of cards of people you've merely met won't do half as much good as 10 relationships you have taken time to build. Relationships aren't as difficult to build as you might think. You might meet someone at a professional meeting, in your business day or at your child's soccer game. Whenever you meet someone, focus on building a relationship, and you will have a better shot of adding a valuable member to your network.
  • Give more than a business card. This doesn't mean you should toss out your business cards. Rather, you should raise your networking expectations beyond simply passing out cards. Instead of relying on a piece of paper to be remembered by, have a meaningful conversation with a new acquaintance, asking them to tell you what they love about their job or organization. People will remember those who've shown a personal interest in them.
  • Build relationships online. Networking Web sites are not just for teenagers to share comments and photos. Many free sites such as LinkedIn exist to help business people build a strong network. This is a particularly useful tool for companies seeking to build relationships outside their geographic location, especially those looking to grow into new areas.
  • Become an online expert. Online networking is more than just adding a profile to a Web site. Many small business owners are building relationships by launching their own blogs. Successful bloggers network to others in the blogosphere, adding experts and users to their business network. Consider launching a blog on a respected site such as or to add your voice into the mix in your industry or field. You might be surprised who you meet online and, in turn, how many people begin trying to build a relationship with you.

These networking tips can help you reach out to potential clients and customers, as well as grow your virtual network in an increasingly Web-driven world.

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