Knowing the right individuals in Austin, Dallas, Houston and other great places in Texas really can make your world go around. If you want to go up to the next rung on your career ladder, networking can be an incredible tool to help you reach your goals. It was held to be number one among “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” a self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey in 1989.
Here are some simple rules to help you become a notable networker:
o First impressions — Every time you meet someone new, use the ‘SHE’ rule — Smile/Handshake/Eye Contact. Greeting people with a genuine smile, a firm and friendly handshake and direct eye contact helps set a positive tone and makes the best first impression.
o Learn names — By knowing an individual’s name you show he/she that you value that person and have separated him/her from the rest of the crowd. There is no better way to make individuals feel good about himself/ herself. It also creates a positive impression of you. A good way to remember names is to use their name three times in conversation during your first meeting with them. Also try associating their name with something that will help jog your memory later.
o Ask open-ended questions –To get people to open up and tell you about themselves, ask these questions:
* Tell me about your job.
* What are your most important responsibilities?
* What do you like most about what you do?
* Where are you from, originally?
* What are you passionate about?
o Show real interest — Showing a genuine interest in people’s answers is the best way to show appreciation. It’s also one of the most effective networking tools around. Offer information about yourself too, so others, who don’t know how to network effectively, can still learn about you also.
o Practice listening — It’s no secret that great leaders master the art of listening early on in their lives. But for the rest of us, the daily distractions and hundreds of obligations often keep us from being fully engaged listeners. Focus on that one person when you are having a one-on-one conversation.
o Find commonality — What do you have in common? When you have something in common with someone, you raise the level of the networking relationship. This plants an incredibly important seed for all relationships – that “something” in common. Now you can build a relationship of respect or even friendship.
o Help others first — Many people fail at networking because they are only out to help themselves. This is the number one no-no in a networking situation. The most successful networkers do just the opposite.
It is also important to keep in touch with your network. Record contact details right after meeting new contacts. Also include key observations or notes about them while the details are still fresh.
Once you put this advice into practice, you’ll find networking can be great fun and you’ll look forward to it. Building your networking skills allows you to be more successful when meeting new friends and associates. The best part about it is that you can do it anytime and anywhere – not just at formal business functions.