The Power of Positive Linking: Effective Business Networking Is about Giving as Well as Tapping Information and Is Certainly More Than Sending a Christmas Card Each Year. (Networking)

Article excerpt

Networking is often a misunderstood term. The word can evoke images of hordes of people desperately attempting to connect with someone -- anyone who might know someone about a business lead, a job or a valuable snippet of information. While this can certainly be the case in some networking situations, networking should be much more strategic and is a valuable skill to cultivate.

The old saying "it's not what you know, it's who you know" is as true today as ever before. The professional alliances built throughout your career will help to maintain an active flow of business information, as well as provide a base of professional colleagues with whom you can have a dialogue.

The results of DBM's latest annual survey of retrenched executives and managers strongly supports networking, with well over half of the executives and managers surveyed securing new positions by tapping into their personal contacts and networking circles.

Many people fall into the trap of waiting until they need a network to start thinking about it -- such as when they are looking for a job -- but it's too late then. Networking should be regarded as an essential component of managing your career, and you should be consistently working on developing your contacts.

You need to develop a relationship, a long-term connection. It's not enough just to touch base with your networking contacts when you need something. Networking is about making connections with people and about giving, not just pumping somebody for information and then walking out the door.

As a banker, think of networking as being about debits and credits. You must give as well as take. Here are a few techniques to ensure that your networking efforts are effective:

1. Be aware of who your potential networking contacts are. Networking contacts don't necessarily have to be friends, they are people who know and respect you personally or professionally. They can be clients, suppliers, colleagues, university alumni, doctor, friends, relatives, neighbours, bankers and lawyers. These individuals might cross over many industries and even countries. Such a diverse group can be useful to tap into for business leads, introductions to prospects and, of course, for your own personal career management. …