Sunday, November 06, 2005

Tips for being a Master Network

The following is an excerpt from “Confessions of an Introvert - The Shy Girl’s Guide to Business Success” by Meghan Wier. Preorders of Confessions of an Introvert will be taken starting in September 2005. For more information, write to meghanwier@meghanwier.com .

CHAPTER 13 TIPS FOR BEING A MASTER NETWORKER

The fact is, it is getting more and more difficult to succeed professionally without developing a diverse range of connections with other people. This is why becoming “masterful” at networking needs to be one of your main objectives. Remember that what you know is important, but not as important as who knows what you know!Being a Master Networker requires visibility, and this can be painful for the introvert who would rather focus on the job than the relationships that surround work. However, they go hand-in-hand. One cannot succeed without the other. The good news is you CAN learn the skills necessaryHere are some tips for being a “Master”:

1.) DO bother - Do not make the assumption that you are annoying people. Introverts will sometimes think that others do not want to be bothered, (probably because we feel like WE are being bothered sometimes!) But, don’t be too quick to avoid making new contacts. Most people will be glad to hear from you!

2.) Rely on your support team – Networking is challenging, and will sometimes not render the results that you would like. Rely on your team of emotional supporters, for empathy, encouragement and a dose of “tough love” when you slack off!

3.) Be a Leader – Take advantage of any leadership position you are in to extend your “circle of influence”. Leadership roles have a built-in excuse to talk to new people and make new connections.

4.) Listen – Most extroverts, (ok all extroverts!) love to have people listen to them. So listen-up! Become engaged in conversations, ask questions, and take advantage of the fact that other people will do a lot of the networking work for you if you make yourself available and open yourself up to the relationship.

5.) Go with a purpose – If you are uncomfortable and nervous at networking events, attend events such as seminars or workshops instead. These types of events have a non-networking agenda, but offer and opportunity to connect with others in a structured environment.

6.) Reach Out – If you find yourself uncomfortable in group situation, you probably aren’t alone! Look for other people who seem out of their element too. They will likely be grateful for a low-key, interesting person to talk to and you will gain confidence talking to new people.

7.) Write – A letter of introduction, a thank you note, or email can be an easy way to break the ice and establish you as person of manners and integrity. Make special note of birthdays and anniversaries, children’s names and interests, and be sure to send a card, or use this as an opportunity to make the phone call!

8.) Share – Introverts are more likely to be up on industry news, and the latest trends. Be the person that others call for information, and be sure to mail out articles of interest to your contacts.

9.) Practice makes Perfect – If you tend to get tongue-tied, or babble, practice a few interesting topics. For example, if someone asks what I do, I don’t just tell them I am Vice President of BizNetix, I say “I handle business development at BizNetix. We do Web site design and development, search engine optimization, IT Services and Web site hosting.” Polish your “elevator speech” and a couple other “snippets” and you will be on your way!

10.) The Small Stuff – Remember to connect with others on small topics, as well as the big stuff! Don’t wait to call or set a meeting, do it now. Reaching out “just to catch up” or to share some good news is a great way to stay in touch, and remain “in the loop”!

(c) 2005 Meghan Wier Confessions of an Introvert

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