Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How to Build a Network That Attracts Opportunity

The reality of today's tough economy means it is up to you to provide the stability that you want in your career, your business and your life. The good news is that the more people know about you, your talents and your abilities, the more you will attract the clients, projects, resources, people, ideas, money and opportunities that you want.

Here are some ideas to help you build a network that will provide you with the opportunities you are looking for.

1. Be open.

When in a formal networking environment, make the first move in a friendly, helpful way. Be a welcoming stranger, adopt an attitude of enjoyment, and help others feel at ease. Take the pressure off of yourself to "sell", this will definitely not happen on a first encounter. The objective is to meet people for the joy of meeting people.

2. Plant seeds.

Always give people something that they can remember you by. Although it might seem easier to give them something tangible, a promotional object such as a business card or a pen, what people will really remember is how you make them feel.

As you meet people and engage with them, leave them feeling better about themselves by sharing an bit of good humor or by noticing something positive about them. Add value by demonstrating your knowledge and experience. A gadget will be quickly forgotten, but a positive experience stays in the memory for a long time.

3. Create a dialogue

Do not tell or lecture, instead ask questions to find out more about the other person. Remember, you may need up to six encounters with someone before they truly understand you and build a level of trust.

Propose various ways to stay connected over time so you can build a relationship with the person (phone call, e-mail, postcard, lunch date, squash game, coffee date, etc). Ask permission to follow up in a tangible way, for example, "Can I give you a call on Tuesday at 10 a.m. to continue our conversation?".

4. Find out what the other person values or needs the most.

Be a connector. Find out what people need then put people in your network in touch with each other so they help each other meet those needs. The initial value you bring to a new professional relationship is your network. Use it to help the person satisfy a priority need, especially one not directly related to what you offer. This creates a much stronger positive impression than trying to "sell" yourself. It also encourages a dynamic of generosity and openness.

5. Network above you, below you and sideways from you.

Go beyond simply looking to connect with people who are similar to you in values and ways of being. Build a three-dimensional network. Networking "above you" means connect with mentors or people who have more knowledge, experience or seniority than you.

"Below you" means to seek out people for whom you can act as a mentor, role-model or support. "Sideways" means to reach beyond your professional, technical or social group to cross-pollinate your network with fresh ideas and connections.

As your network expands, the "six degrees" law will work in your favor, connecting you more effectively to the opportunities, resources and contacts you are looking for.

6. Keep your network alive by being at the centre of it.

Host your own network by starting your own groups. Take a leadership role, develop a reputation as a mover and shaker within your network and keep it active and happy. Keep the focus on the members of your network and avoid making it all about you. The more you help your network, the more they will naturally be ready to help you.

7. Make clear requests of your network

Help your network help you by making clear requests. If you would like to have more clients, clearly describe the profile of the best client for you. If you are looking for a professional to add to your team, be specific.

If you are not getting the referrals you want from your network, it is because your message is muddled - when people are confused or unsure, they will not act. Clear requests will circulate through your network until someone finds the precise connection you are looking for.

8. Don't hesitate, but don't rush.

Be patient. This type of networking is a style that takes time to adopt. As you build your network you will also build your social equity, an essential currency in today's interconnected world.

Devise a networking strategy and execute it step by step, and eventually you will develop a network that will gladly provide you with all of the clients, projects, resources, people, ideas, money and opportunities that you want.

By : Davender_Gupta

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