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The 3 Major Steps of the Networking Process
By Manal Richa

I never thought that networking could take over my life the way it did.  For an introverted person, it turned out to be a fun and productive process.  I find myself thriving on building relationships and helping others.

Within the past two years, I discussed the topic of networking with multiple people and I received generous feedback from the attendees of my workshops and training sessions.  All this information helped me understand even more the networking process and how it works.  The following are three major steps of the networking process:

#1 Pre-Planning

This step includes anything and everything that you need to do prior to attending an event; starting with deciding if the event is a good fit for you or not; all the way into making sure that you have a goal to achieve.  There are hundreds of organizations and events going on around each city on a daily basis.  You can't be involved in all of them.  You simply can't spread yourself too thin.

Be selective about the events. Find out who is going to be there and how it might be beneficial for you.  Call the event organizer, if necessary, and find answers to your questions so that you are ready!

Decide on who you want to meet and who you want to re-connect with. 

Make sure you have plenty of business cards and a memorable Elevator Pitch prepared.

Have a positive attitude and a Pay-it-Forward mentality.

#2 Etiquette

During the event, your first goal should be to meet the people you have in mind.  It is always a good idea to arrive early and leave late.

Acting as the host might be a good ice breaker and might help you connect with new people.  For those of us with an introverted personality, approaching strangers is a challenge.  So standing at the door, with a welcoming attitude, might help you meet new people and provide help at the same time.

When it comes to business cards and taking notes, develop a strategy or a system that work best for you.  Make it an easy process by figuring out steps to facilitate the interaction with others.  Know where your business cards on your body or in your purse.  Know where you put the new business cards you collect. . . make sure they are separated from yours. You don't want to be handing out somebody else's card.

Carry a small notepad and a pen all the time.  Use it to take notes and at the same time share with others who might need a pen or a piece of paper.

When talking to others, be present and listen to what they have to say. . . Simply CONNECT with them! 

#3 Follow-ups

After you spend money and time to attend a specific event, you usually end up with a bunch of business cards and promises to connect with the new people you met.  Deliver on that promise and make your best to connect with them within 24 – 48 hours after you meet.  Send them an email or give them a call.  If they have a preference, make sure that you make note of that preference and respect it as well. 

If you promised to email information, contact, resources. . . again, make sure you deliver on that promise and come through by emailing the promised information.

The point behind it all is really to find out what works for you and how you can build new relationships while having a process that makes it easy for you and your connections.

The three major steps of the networking process are very essential when it comes to being successful and seeing results.  One common mistake that was being noticed, is that networkers tend to skip one of the major steps or even drop the ball during the process.  For successful results, it is recommended that you cover all three steps, one step at a time. . . and slowly watch ROI on your networking efforts.

About the Author

Founder of The MarCom Network, a marketing and creative consultancy firm in Irvine, CA, Manal Richa is an avid networker. Believing in the power of networking and building relationships, Manal developed workshops around the topic of networking. Her training sessions are customized to meet her clients' needs. Manal offers a spectrum of services ranging from one-on-one consultations, all the way into full-day interactive training sessions on the topic of networking, building relationships, networking etiquette, follow up strategies, social networking and more. Some of her clients are Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Small Business Development Center, Chapman University, and more.

(ArticlesBase SC #2728805)

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