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Effective Networking for Busy People Think you don't have time to network? Think again.

From Buzzy Gordon

With all the demands on our time made by our business, professional and personal lives, it is tempting to assign a lower priority to networking as an activity designed to meet new people. After all, we have so many commitments at the office and at home -- to colleagues, family and friends – that it is difficult to set aside extra time to bring even more people into our lives.

This thinking would be wrong, however, on two levels. For one, we are constantly being introduced to new people anyway, every day, with no disruption to our schedules.

Secondly, by not consistently widening our circles of acquaintances and contacts, we may be severely curtailing our chances for advancement and success. It is estimated that the average person knows about 250 people. And each of those people knows, in turn, another 250 or so people. This means that for each new person you meet, you gain access to a potential pool of 62,500 people separated from you by just two degrees!

Imagine the odds, then, that out of so many people, you would NOT find one person who would be a source of information about a better job, additional clients or customers, a speaking engagement or writing assignment, an investment opportunity, where to shop for better value, and much more. In all likelihood, you would find many more than one.

Do these numbers sound staggering? At the end of this article, I will prove the multiplier effect to you!

Networking, therefore, is one of the most profitable activities in which one can engage. Fortunately, like any endeavor, one can get more proficient at it with practice. Moreover, it takes very little time or effort to get it right.

It takes only a moment’s conscious decision to become a networker, with no interference to one’s daily routine. All it requires is a slight shift in attitude, and adopting one simple trifurcated rule:

Greet each new acquaintance with an openness to learn more about that person, a willingness to help, and an offer to stay in touch.

This approach is equally applicable to every form of networking, whether in business or social contexts, and whether the encounter takes place in person or, as frequently happens today, online.

It pays to network in person, not only to meet new people, but also to keep your vital communications skills sharp. Practice making friendly conversation; even if no relationship develops with that person, he or she will likely remember you as a “nice guy/lady” if asked about you at some point in the future.

If you feel you are too busy to go to networking events, attend only those vital to your professional or business standing. Make the best of chance and casual meetings that occur during the course of your normal workday.

Also, take more business cards than you give out. That way, you are more in control of the tempo of developing relationships.

If you’d like to network from the comfort of your home or office, or during down time on weekends, join an online business networking community. Many of them have sub-networks focused on topics of particular interest to you. In addition, you can look at others’ profiles and prioritize accordingly.

The power of online networking is in the viral effect so unique to the Internet. I belong to an online networking community that has tens of thousands of members.

As members invite friends to join, this network’s rate of exponential growth is now up to an average of more than 2,750 new members a week. As an individual member, over eight months, I have linked directly and mutually to 208 online “friends.” Amazingly, this translates into 8,138 “friends of friends!” These are all people I can access with a few clicks of a mouse, and without disturbing my first circle of friends at all. It is mind-boggling to imagine the number of “friends of friends of friends” I have – and this figure grows every hour, with no more effort on my part.

It is worth noting that all this is free – and for just a small upgrade fee, I can search the entire network for individuals who work in a specific industry or company, live in a city I plan to visit, are experts in a field in which I am seeking advice, etc. And there is a very good chance they would respond to me, since we are members of the same community of networkers.

Lack of time is no longer an excuse for failing to “reach out and find someone” who can possibly be on your side in the business of life.
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