Chapter 7. Networking Secrets

Whether it's beers with friends at the local bar, raising glasses of champagne with the CEO at a work reception, or making small talk with the guy next to you on the treadmill at the gym, these are all networking opportunities. Odds are, you feel awkward using business and social situations such as these as an opportunity to try to drum up new business or build up your contact list. But it's essential that you overcome your trepidation and welcome these encounters, and others, as opportunities to achieve greater success. The more people you know, the better your chances that someone will spread the good word about you and the quality of your work. Keep in mind that an innocent conversation with a stranger might lead to you signing the biggest deal of your life (marriage included) or landing a client or customer you might have considered to be out of your league. In many respects, our network is part of our personal brand, and you have a duty to yourself to build that brand.

Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social networking web sites are wonderful tools but they don't represent truly effective business networking. They are good ways to build loose connections and contacts—but until you meet someone in the flesh and are given the chance to impress upon them your entire range of soft skills, the chances of engaging in profitable and long-term business relationship are slim.

Being a strong networker can make the difference between remaining a hard-working ...

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