Developing networking skills


  Developing networking skills

Even if you are on the verge of success or at the height of your career, it behooves you to always be ready for change. Let's say you're an artist. You may have hit a peak and feel like everything is going well for you - people are buying your work and filling up your calendar with commissions. Suddenly, your art form becomes popular and there are no commissions to be found. Of course, you can always fall back on your spare tire or the skills you've acquired in other capacities because if you're a free-lance artist it's likely that you have something else that can help pay the bills until this trend passes. Or if it doesn't pass, you can market yourself to other outlets - like interior designing - that do not require specialized training or equipment.
Nearly every profession has some back-up plan so don't neglect yours. Have some networking contacts in mind and put together a list of places to call upon when you need them. The worst thing you can do is to wait until you need them and then scramble to put them all together. You may find that you might need to start at square one and go through all the steps of developing your plan for the future.
It's also a good idea to be prepared in case something should happen while you are in the midst of putting together your networking plan. While it is true that we live in a stable society, acts of terrorism or natural disaster can strike without warning. You never know what the future may hold. Just think of all the things that could go wrong - losing your job, your spouse, your house or even losing all your money. These are all things that could happen to most people at some point in their lives. It is important to have a back-up plan in place for such occasions.
You can call upon many people when you need them and it's better to do so with a minimum number of phone calls and active keywords so you don't waste their time or create an embarrassing situation for yourself if you make a mistake trying to be too clever. You wouldn't want to call the Queen of England when you needed help with your plan for after the divorce.
Here are a few suggestions for networking contacts:
Friends and family members, trust-fund children, business associates, neighbors and anyone else you think will be helpful. Remember, people's time is valuable and so is yours. Your main goal is to network as efficiently as possible so that it doesn't take more than two hours to get all the information you need. Don't fire off endless e-mails or make a phone call every time you need something or have questions about something you've already done.
No matter what you do, make sure it is legal. Don't write to someone offering to fix their computer for free and then use your key logger to figure out their passwords. People may have something called a computer monitor that will tell them what you're up to if they feel like snooping. If you find it necessary to tell someone that you are looking for classified information, ask them if they would mind receiving a letter from the Queen of England if she wanted some information or services from them!
"Who doesn't want to hear from the Queen?" That should be your slogan as you start your networking campaign.
Always be on the lookout for new people in need of your services or products. Always be ready to send them a letter. Always have an answer to the question, "What do you do?" Even if you don't know what you're going to do, it doesn't matter. Use your imagination and come up with something.
You may want to create a file for each type of situation and write down what keywords you can use in each instance. For example:
If someone asks: "What's your line of work?" Put down this keyword: "The Queen."
If they ask for your business card, put down this keyword: "I'm the Queen of England. Please call me."
If they ask if you can help with their computer, put down this keyword: "Yes, I can fix your computer or install your new software."
Always be willing to look into information that you receive. You never know when a family member is going to ask you about the work you did for someone twenty years ago. You may not remember who it was but it may be helpful to do some research online and see if there are any new leads that might be available. Perhaps the person in question has moved and is coming back into town or maybe they've had a problem with the Web site that's been confusing them ever since you fixed it for them.
And always remember that people are very good about forgetting to ask for your services or products so if you offer them, they are likely to take you up on the offer.
You may want to protect yourself against unwanted information. If someone comes up with information that turns out to be a dead end or possibly dangerous, don't be afraid to let them know that you've moved on and no longer need the information. Also, don't make a false promise - like telling someone that you are going to contact them later and never do so. They may get frustrated and put the information in a file under your name for future use.
You may want to inform people that you are always looking for information about old friends or family members who have come up missing or who are in need of some kind of help. You can use this same line when someone asks if you'll help them with their networked file server or printer. If they ask why, tell them that you're just doing your part by contacting these people when they need your help.
Don't be shy, be prepared. You never know whom you are going to meet. You might just find yourself helping someone search for a long lost friend or family member. Or, you might find that the person you're working with has an uncle who just happens to be the head of a major corporation that needs a good designer. Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't worry about looking silly when someone asks why you want to know something (as long as it isn't illegal or unethical).
And no matter what kind of information you receive, always use your common sense when evaluating it and make sure it checks out before using it in any professional way.

I hope you've found this information helpful and that you have enjoyed reading this book as much as I did writing it. It's time for me to go now, I'm late for a meeting with a member of the Royal Family who is looking for some new software.
Auf Wiedersehen!

If you still have questions about how to be more attractive to potential employers then please visit http://www.makeyourselfattractivetopotentialemployers.

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