7 Things I Learned About Networking

No writer is an island. Especially nowadays, when novelists are expected to be their own marketers, and the very nature of blogging and online publishing invites comments and conversations. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, networking was a consistent theme among the professional writers speaking at the Hofstra University Career Mixer for English Majors/Minors this week. Today’s guest blog post is written by author and fellow Long Islander Claudia Gryvatz Copquin, who offers 7 critical tips on growing your professional circles of friends, followers and colleagues.

Although I’ve been a freelance journalist for almost two decades and have written many business features during the course of my career, I knew very little about the true meaning of networking before I was hired to co-write Fast Track Networking: Turning Conversations into Contacts (Career Press, 2010). But thanks to the book’s brilliant main author, business guru Lucy Rosen, who founded the national networking group, Women on the Fast Track, I learned during the writing process that networking is all about sharing – sharing contacts and connections, with no ulterior motives. The idea behind this kind of unconditional networking is that by giving of yourself, you are creating and building positive relationships with others. Ultimately, relationships are what networking is all about.  Here are seven things I learned:

1.      Share your contacts with others. By sharing, you are helping others achieve their goals, but don’t expect one hand to wash the other. Eventually, there will be a cosmic reward for your generosity. But even if there is no payback, you will feel good about giving to others.

2.      When putting #1 into practice, you are entitled to, and should, discriminate. That means that if you are giving X the name of your valued supplier, Y, make sure you know that X is a professional and trustworthy person. Remember that networking is about building solid relationships, so get to know X before you provide him with any of your excellent contacts. That will ensure a positive connection for all parties involved.

3.      Attend networking events to expand your circle of connections. A networking event can mean a large, organized function where people are expected to meet and exchange business cards, or it can mean a small, informal gathering at a restaurant.  The point is, wherever you go, connect with others. Approach strangers, and introduce yourself. You never know where you might make a great new contact.

4.      Listen. When meeting people, don’t do most of the talking. Instead, ask questions and listen.   Only by active listening can you find out how you can help others.

5.      Follow through. If you promise someone you’ll share a connection, take the time to do it. (Do it quickly, so you don’t forget!) You will then be known as the type of individual who can be relied upon.

6.      Don’t neglect social networking, such as Facebook and Twitter. These are important communication tools and offer great opportunities to help others. Don’t lurk – be an active participant. Offer comments, advice, leads and contacts whenever possible.

7.      Say thank you. Remember to thank your contacts for sharing and giving of themselves, and do so at every opportunity. Everyone appreciates acknowledgement and gratitude.

In a career spanning two decades, award-winning journalist, editor and author Claudia Gryvatz Copquin has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times, Crain’s New York Business and a slew of other magazines and newspapers across the country.  A bridal editor for ten years, she is also the founder of Long Island’s only bridal blog, www.GettingMarriedonLongIsland.com.

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