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Networking 101 Lesson 1

(This article is the first in a series of posts, co-written by Douglas Hoffman and long time ALS Client and friend, Lyle Katz. Lyle is a very successful mortgage banker and an expert in the fine art of generating opportunity. Lyle’s experience forms the basis of this series. At the end of each article, there will be an assignment for the next four weeks.)

Let’s start at the beginning with a definition for networking. This is not the usual definition, nor is it “correct” or “definitive.” It is simply the one that we will use for this conversation:

Networking is the deliberate building of a community for sharing information and services among business people. Ultimately, networking is about helping others.

In our experience, many people miss the opportunity allowed by professional and social gatherings.

They attend such events, looking for clients or buyers for their particular product or service. Certainly, one should be open to the possibility of finding a client at such events, and there is nothing wrong with finding a client at a networking event or other gathering. However, this is not a wise business strategy that will provide a reliable return over time.

Networking must be considered to be a way to build relationships that will, over time, bring you both opportunities to serve others and generate business for you. Your relationships will be better, and more effective and long lasting, if you are prepared to be of service as well as reap the rewards. Effective networking involves creating and fostering centers of influence (COI), which is an investment of time and effort that will pay off for you, and your contacts, over time. Make sure you know who you’re your COIs are. Keep a short list of things you are looking for to make it is easy for people to help you. Your networking contacts will introduce you to new centers of influence and eventually to your clients. More importantly, you will introduce your networking contacts to their COIs, which will, in turn, lead them to their clients.

Approach networking as the opportunity it is: to both meet people and build relationships. The rewards will come both rapidly and over time. People do business with people they know and trust. Look for people you want to have around you–people you like and can count on. Get to know them and what they need. Learn ways to help each other. Listen well, and you will find out whom they want to meet. Be the first to provide an introduction when starting a new networking relationship.

Your assignment for the next four weeks:

  • Meet five new people that can be networking partners.
  • Find out what is special or great about what they do.
  • Think of people who might want to meet them.
  • Make at least three introductions to people who will be better off by knowing each other.
  • Refer at least three people to an article, book, TV show or movie you think would be of real interest to them.
  • BONUS: Write a reply to this article that describes something new that comes out of these actions.

Edited by Meg Buck

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