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15 Tips for Making Business Networking Part of Your Everyday Mindset

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Andrea Nierenberg offers 15 tips to make you better at and more comfortable with integrating business networking into your everyday life.
This chapter is from the book

When you stand in the checkout line at the grocery store, you probably do like I do and take a quick peek at whatever celebrity story the tabloids are trying to spin, avoid looking at the candy bars seductively sitting on the opposite shelves, and maybe have a casual conversation with the checkout clerk or another person in line: “How do you like that brand?” “Maybe I should try some.” “Getting ready for the holidays?”

People like to chat—even introverts like me. Sometimes you drift into discussing what you do and even exchanging contact information. This casual scenario can happen on a plane, on a park bench, and even waiting to be seated in a restaurant. You make a connection, however brief, and, like a seed, it blooms into something more a year later, three years later, or even longer. I’ve had it happen, and you can, too. Does it mean you’re manipulative or conniving? No. You are connecting. And when you practice connecting, you will find that often something good can come of it. That’s what networking is all about. You come to enjoy it, do it well, and sometimes develop new relationships and opportunities.

Networking is a mindset. It is a strategy for life, a way to create lasting connections and enrich all areas of your life. Networking is 24/7. People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a situation, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may even seem like a Godsend—and they are.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, the relationship may come to an end. Sometimes the people you’ve met pass away; sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What you must realize is that your need has been met, your desire fulfilled, and their work is done. This is life, and you must realize it.

Tip 1: Networking Now Is Part of My Life

I have come to think of networking not as something that I have to do. Instead, I look at it as part of my makeup, of who I am. I think, “How can I be a resource to others, give something to them or learn from them?” They are all part of my strategic networking. This can become part of your life strategy as well, and be with you all the time. For instance, think right now about the following:

  • Who can you send a note or article to that would give them an idea? Who can you just say hello to?
  • What did you learn today from someone you know or someone you met or observed? (By the way, we can even learn from people we don’t like or respect. They teach us what not to do.)
  • Who can you refer today? Maybe you just spoke with a client or friend, and they are looking for a job or opportunity. Maybe you can reach out for an exploratory meeting with someone you have connected with on Facebook or LinkedIn.
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