There’s a saying, “It’s not What you know, it’s WHO you know.”. That is a true statement. There are so many other elements to networking that sometimes get overlooked. So what is social networking? What is networking for?

Social Networking is getting to know people and connecting. There are hundreds of people who are new to social networks and social support every day. Many of them think social networks are for handing out their cards and collecting cards and spamming them all later with their special offer or their latest venture. It is important to have business cards handy and to collect them and here are some other important things:

Quality vs. Quantity: It’s great to meet a lot of people while networking especially when attending a social network event. Quantity: Do take all their business cards. Why take their cards? In case you can refer to them. Even if they never refer to you, referring will give you credibility. If you are in a group and people in that group are noticing that you are referring to them or many in the group, they will start referring to you. It’s about what you send into the universe. It will come back. Referring to others shows that you’re a not just in it for yourself. So, refer to plenty. When you meet them you will be able to tell if they are givers or takers. Refer to the givers. Quality: If you go into a group with the intention to meet everyone, that’s great. You can find out what other businesses are represented and get their information. While you may have a service or product that everyone can use, narrow down your search. While everyone could use it, not everyone will. People like to do business with friends. If they see you going around and making your pitch, they will see you as insincere. If you are asking people about their business, they will tell you about what they do and when they ask what you do, there is your opportunity to talk about it. Look for ques, if they seem genuinely interested in what you do, ask permission to follow up with them.

It’s OK to set up a time to call them later to discuss it at a time convenient for you both. You cannot connect with everyone, so connect with a few and make friends with them.

Make Friends: I have been out networking and have met some people that I simply feel I connect with. I may be interested in getting together with them later so here is what I do. I get talking to someone that I hit it off with socially and I know they are not interested in my services but I like them, I tell them something like this “hey, I really like you, I feel we have connected. Would you like to get together for coffee sometime, I promise, I’m not going to try to sell you something.”. I have made some fantastic friends through networking. It’s been a great source for me to get together with like minded people. It can be especially difficult to meet people who have a sense of business, personal development and living with a higher purpose when your last few years have been spent raising kids or working a job that just pays the bill. Developing friendships that are mutually beneficial is a great added benefit to networking and it’s always great to have new friends and mentors.

Building Credibility: How does referring to people build credibility? It shows that you are interested in supporting other business and not just in it for yourself. It also gives credibility among those you know who don’t network or have not considered doing business with you. People like neighbors, church/synagogue/mosque friends, other social activity groups that don’t focus on business networking are will see you as knowledgeable or helpful at least. You will build credibility with everyone around you and they will see you as expert and come to you for all sorts of information and advice. That leaves the door open for them to either eventually do business with you or refer someone to you. Again, even if you don’t do business with or get referrals from these associates it’s great to be helpful to others. Out and About Is it ok to network while out and about doing regular things in your day? Yes. You never know who is behind you in line or standing next to you at the salad bar. If you are a chatter and it’s natural then by all means chat. There are ways to direct the conversation to business but it’s usually obvious. IF they talk about work then ask more, if they ask you what you do, talk about it but don’t get your sales pitch out, bait it but if they don’t bite, then leave it. If they do ask and are interested, don’t be jumpy, let them know you respect your social time as well as theirs and get their information and call them later.

Who: Who should network? Everyone. Even people who don’t have a job or a business. There are so many opportunities out there we won’t find unless we are open to finding them. Those who are in business or those who are looking to make new friends with interesting people should take the time to network. This is something I believe that people who are unemployed and looking for a job are missing out on. The type of people who go to networking events are people who are interested in helping others. If you go to an event and and don’t have a job, you may be referred to people you would not have access to otherwise and be referred by people with credibility.

So, what IS networking all about? It’s about building all kinds of relationships that are mutually beneficial and healthy. It’s about opening your world to new possibilities that you may not have even known about.

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