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Networking Success:
Mastering the Right Combinations

Last week a friend of mine had trouble opening a Master lock. After jiggling and wiggling and redialing the combination five times, the hasp finally popped open. Mentioning the problem to a co-worker my friend learned, Surprise! that she had been using the wrong combination.

Sometimes networking is like that.

Action alone doesn't guarantee success. A client here, a referral there may just be an accident, not an indication of skill. With the right combination networking success is easy and consistent.

Use this winning combination for your business networking success.

1: Join three different types of networking associations. Think of this like a meal. Entrée and two vegetables.

You may choose to work a casual-contact network, like the Chamber of Commerce; a leads group; a business association; a professional association; a single occupation association; a charitable or civic organization; an athletic alliance; a church group; the PTSA or any of the 12 other types of associations. If the structure and the members feel comfortable to you when you visit, don't hesitate - join.

2: Arrive early, stay late. Networking is about meeting people. The irony is that you don't meet anyone during a meeting, you meet them before or after. So people who slide in as the meeting is starting and rush out as it is adjourned aren't networking - they're just attending a meeting.

Plan to arrive at least half an hour early. Greet people as they arrive, introduce first time attendees to experienced members, act like a host and make yourself memorable because you help other people feel comfortable. After the meeting re-connect with established friends and previous acquaintances.

Remember that your reason for being there is to meet people you don't know. Sit by someone new, volunteer to help with registration, make it a point to introduce yourself to new members. Handing out business cards to people who didn't ask for them isn't networking, neither is collecting business cards.

Networking is being a people connector - not a people collector.

3: Make connections. Create reasons to re-connect with the people you meet. Susan Nolan invites me to parties, Lesley High mails magazine articles she knows I'll enjoy, Judy Mecham left me a "just calling to see how you're doing" voice mail every three months for 3 years and now we work together.

Arrange a 3-way lunch to introduce two new friends. Email an interesting web address. Forward a photo, recommend a book, pass on a newsletter.

I invited a member of my referral network to visit my investment club. A business associate came to Toastmasters as my guest and joined. Once a month I host a dinner party with a mix of people who don't know each other. Be the connection.

The great thing about having the right combination is the confidence that you get from knowing it will work, every time.
Ready. . . Set. . . Go Make Money!

Wendy L. Kinney is a speaker who focuses on networking skills and referral based marketing systems. Her keynote Networking Aerobics: CardioVascular Activity for Your Wallet gives business owners and sales people effective skills for open networking events. For more information on how to make networking work for you, contact Kinney via phone at 404-784-0699, fax at 404-816-8685, or email at