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Lynette Palmen AM is the Founder and Patron of Women’s Network Australia. The organisation started in 1990 offering support, inspiration and services to inspire women to succeed in their career and business endeavours. Women’s Network Australia is now the Nation’s premier membership based networking organisation for business and professional women. T: 1800 052 476.

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Recession Busting Networking

March 3, 2009 | admin

With the search now on by most businesses for ways and means to reduce costs, it’s no surprise that the tried and true art of networking is once again back in fashion. One only needs to compare the results networking achieves up against other forms of acquiring business, such as advertising or cold calling, to soon realise that the grape vine is an absolute gold mine.

Applying networking to any business will produce results, so how can you turn an event into an effective networking exercise?  For novice networkers the most important rule is to remember that networking is not necessarily a skill you are born with.  It takes practice, patience and perfecting. The key factor is having the confidence to realise that you do in fact have something valuable to contribute. 

Networking will only work if you position yourself well, create a profile and repeat the exercise. If you take all three concepts on board, you will enjoy the benefits of building a contact portfolio of more people than you will ever need in your lifetime to meet your business and personal goals.

Tips for networking during the recession

1.      Most people are not clear on the concept of networking. They attend events with the assumption that networking is about themselves and selling. A good networker knows that networking and building relationships is about taking the time to find out about others and from there any future business relationships evolve.

2.      Once making the commitment to commence networking actively, think about how you wish to represent your business or your employer. Keep your branding and the message you communicate simple and consistent.

3.      Always arrive at networking events on time. This allows you to introduce yourself to the event organisers whilst also getting a feel for the environment. It also gives you time to assess the event format, organise your action plan and preview name tags of attending guests to see if any are your existing contacts.

4.      If you wish to be taken seriously always have adequate business cards on hand and don’t act desperate – treat your business card with respect only handing them onto those you have engaged in conversation with.
5.      Sometimes taking a friend along for support can work well, but most times it is a stumbling block to achieving any outcomes. Inevitably you and your friend will use the event as a catch up – convincing yourself afterwards that the event was a good networking exercise as it gave you the opportunity to catch up with your colleague. The truth is you were never going to achieve any results from this networking event and you should have simply had coffee together elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with inviting a colleague to attend a networking event, but ensure you split up on arrival and catch up after the event to discuss outcomes and any personal chit chat.

6.      Great networkers follow up those they meet. If you tell people you are going to call, do it.  But in saying this, there are always going to be times where you are so busy that sourcing extra business is not a priority. So, if this is the case, when you meet a new contact simply tell them, “It was great to meet you and I would like to find out more about your business or career aspiration so can we catch up at next month’s networking event?”. It’s really important within networking groups that you display exceptional networking ethics, manners and show other people respect.

7.      Switched on networkers don’t attend events based on who’s guest speaking or the topic of the day, they know it’s all about who else is in the room. In any case, if you can’t open your mind sufficiently to learn something from even the worst speaker, you are probably not in the right space to start networking.
     
8.      A savvy networker never shows prejudice against those in the room based on their own agenda. A good example of this is an employee of a large firm attending a networking event where on the surface all attendees appear to be from the small or the home-based business sector. They mistakenly might feel they have nothing in common and, worse still, that the people in the room are of no use to their narrow business agenda.  Now besides the fact they don’t even understand that networking is not about them, they are also completely ignorant to fact that every attendee in the room has at least 300 networking contacts many of which are exactly the people they seek to be introduced to. 

Networking goes well beyond purchasing a ticket to attend an event. It is a tried and true method to grow your business and career prospects.  With the right commitment and attitude anyone can learn to reap the professional rewards effective networking has to offer.

  • Thanks for the tips and reminder on the benefits of networking

    Kind Regards,
    Chrissy

  • Thanks Lynette. I’m on my way this evening to my first networking event for my new business and ran across your blog whilst boning up on how to go. I’ll do my best to put it all into action now!
    Kind regards
    Grace

  • The biggest thing I’ve noticed networking with women is how many women seem afraid to sell themselves. We are given an opportunity to shine with an elevator pitch but so many do this poorly. Practice something short, snappy and don’t be afriad to smile, be happy, enthusiastic and speak loudly! I’m actually there because I want to hear what you have to offer and link-up with business opportunities.
    Oh and never having won a prize but desperately excited at the thought. When you win you are noticed please look happy, let out a little glee and stride up with pride, excitement and gratitiude. I will when I win!

  • Thanks Lynette. I'm on my way this evening to my first networking event for my new business and ran across your blog whilst boning up on how to go. I'll do my best to put it all into action now!
    Kind regards
    Grace

  • DawnBillings

    I love Lynette's article. As the CEO and Founder of The Heart Link Women's Network which is just opening locations in Australia, I can tell you the listening, learning and following up are the most important pieces of becoming a master networker. As Lynette pointing out, Women's networking today is about creating real, meaningful and lasting relationships and that is easy to do if you are willing to give a little extra in the listening part of the networking gathering. We make it easy to do in our Heart link Women's network format. Each woman receives 3 full minutes to share and showcase her products and services. Our gatherings are informal and FUN. Use every opportunity to network. Remember networking is the most powerful and effective way you can grow your business. Blessings, Dawn Billings, CEO and Founder of The Heart Link Network http://www.TheHeartLinkNetwork.com and the womens online networking community http://www.TheHeartAlliance.com