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Building Better Bridges: Networking for Personal Productivity

Mistakenly, networking is sometimes viewed or approached as selling, aggressive, simply passing out business cards, or used solely for personal gain. However, the true spirit of networking involves getting to know people and developing relationships, giving without obligation, and exchanging business cards when there is a reason to stay in touch, such as a mutual interest or information or resources to be shared.

Why the emphasis on networking? In case you aren’t already convinced through your own experiences or that of other people you know, the following statistics underscore the importance of effective networking:

* A referral generates 80 percent more results than a cold call;

* Approximately 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking; and

* Most people you meet have at least 250 contacts.

And while these facts are reason enough to focus on improving one’s networking skills, there are other benefits of networking too. Among them, networking can enrich your life, providing new experiences and knowledge.

One of the best ways to get started is to consider what you have to offer to the people in your network, such as special skills, information, experience, or knowledge, followed by asking yourself what you might need help with. Networking begins with listening and sharing—people helping each other to achieve their respective goals. Little things as simple as clipping an interesting article, sharing a useful website link, or answering a question in your area of expertise are all ways to add value to the people in your network. These things show people you care, help build relationships, and establish rapport and trust so that when you need help it will be there for you.

Remember, networking can be very rewarding, not only in terms of business outcomes, saved time, and valuable information, but also in personal satisfaction because it involves helping others reach their goals. And that’s a great feeling!

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About the Author

Kathleen J. Wheelihan is a professional speaker for AchieveMax®, Inc., a firm specializing in custom-designed keynote presentations, seminars, and consulting services. Kathleen has made presentations ranging from creativity to customer service and leadership to teambuilding. For information, call 800-886-2MAX or visit http://www.AchieveMax.com.

Kathleen J. Wheelihan