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Making Networking Profitable

Networking has become so much a part of the corporate nomenclature that some executives can’t get through a day without making reference to this ultimate act of business schmoozing. And while membership in peer networking groups can be a beneficial means of meeting up with other “movers and shakers,” following up on those associations may be the ultimate “contact” sport.

Certainly, there are natural born networkers among us, but I think it’s fair to say that for most executives, taking time out of a hectic day to chat and share their “feelings” is not a high priority. But politeness and business protocol virtually demand that we make the time to interact with others in a structured environment…so if we’re going to do it, we should do it right.

As I see it, networking is not so much about that cocktail party at the local Holiday Inn; it’s about what you do after the last business card has been exchanged and the last hand has been shaken.

True networking is all about the follow-up. A good exchange of conversation – no matter how brief – might turn into a bona fide business connection or referral partner, if not for you then perhaps for someone you know. It could be that you strike up a dialog with someone whose business needs don’t mesh with your expertise or business offerings, but you know of a great person who could benefit from a partnership with this individual. By all means, introduce these two people…not only will you have done a good deed you will be remembered for your assistance in bringing them together.

Let’s face it – networking is all about establishing new professional relationships and building business, but the focus doesn’t always have to be on our company or service. We’re all in this together, so why not share the wealth?

Before saying your goodbyes at a networking session, ask potential contacts their preference of communication to stay in touch. Some people prefer an old fashioned phone conversation over email; others favor social media networks such as LinkedIn. It’s best to be in touch within a couple days to demonstrate your interest in building a business relationship.

That said; make sure your web site is working, that information is up to date and all links are active. Chances are good that several people you met at the networking function will check out your site. Making a good impression in person is important, but a professional web site that accurately represents who you are and what you have to offer can take things to the next level. And pass that bit of advice along; there’s no reason why you shouldn’t share a good idea.

(Jim Moniz is CEO of Northeast Wealth Management and Core Business Group, www.corebusinessgroup.com, jmoniz@corebusinessgroup.com.)

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