Rules of the road: The quick guide to better networking

Here is an article written by Tom Searcy for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS  Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the BNET newsletters, please click here.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of Flickr user MyTudut

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Here’s a secret: I hate networking. Really. Truly. It’s not something I’m proud of, but there it is. Yes, I train sales professionals and advise on sales leadership and large account selling for a living. And yet, no, I do not enjoy the act of networking.

But instead of hiding from it, I’ve embraced it. I’ve collected advice from a few experts through books, workshops and friends, and I’ve compiled them here for you. Let’s be honest: when you can’t fight it, you have to learn how to survive it. Here are a few tips to help.

[Here are two of four specific “rules.” To read the complete article, please click here.]

1. First and foremost, it’s not all about you. Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone, taught me a lot about networking, and the most important point is that it’s not about you. If you spend your time meeting people and trying to see if there is a way you can be of help to them, you put your mind in the right order, and it is easier. Why? Because you may not be a great networker, but you are a great problem solver. If you can help someone else with an issue, idea or contact, you are working in the sweet spot of your skills. Along the way, good things will happen for you, too.

2. Set your goals. When I attend an event, I typically have between one to three people I specifically want to meet who I’ve picked out in advance. If they are not there, or they are completely encumbered, I go to my back-up goal. Set a number of new people, let’s say five or 10, who you are going to meet, ask two questions, and swap cards with. Once you have hit your number, you are off the hook. You met your goal and you can go home, see a movie, catch the end of the game at the bar, it doesn’t matter. You set a goal and you hit it. These networking events are not a prison-sentence if you don’t make them one.


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