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Top Ten Smart Networking Tips

© Meg Montford, Executive Career Coach

Smart networking is a major key to career success. Master it, and you master your destiny. The following tips will help you become a pro:

1. If unemployed, print your own business cards to use at networking events. Include your contact information with your target market. Example: John Q. Smith, Sales Management.

2. Put your resume on the web with its own web page. Most Internet service providers give you a free page for personal use. Then, add your resume page's URL to your business card.

3. When you collect business cards, follow-up! Note on the back of each card where you met the person and something noteworthy to help you remember him. Schedule a time to meet for coffee to continue building the relationship.

4. Consider networking as a process you do for the life of your career, not just something to do between jobs. Continue to grow your career by building and maintaining relationships.

5. When networking, offer first - take second. Determine what value you can provide others before asking for their help. This way you will leave a very favorable impression.

6. As an employee of "Brand Me, Inc.," act like you're self-employed when you seek a new job. Market yourself as your most important product.

7. For entrepreneurs, public speaking and publishing are critical to building expertise in the public eye. For job seekers, doing the same can attract attention to YOUR expertise, hopefully leading to meetings with potential hiring authorities.

8. Remember that everyone you meet has the potential to lead you to your target. Most people are only three degrees removed from the person with whom they need to connect.

9. Networking gurus have polished 30-second commercials. Practice your "elevator speech" so it sounds natural and conveys the right message in a concise way.

10. As you network, be authentic. No one likes a know-it-all any more than a wallflower. Be yourself and be real. Above all else, remember your manners. Thank those who help you.

(First Published in The Kansas City Star, Career Expo Special Section, February 15, 2004)

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