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Business Networking for Career Success

Whatever employment situation you are in, you must network for career success. Since it is likely you already know many people, leveraging and expanding your network today will make searching for your next career opportunity much easier.

What is Business Networking?
If you’re still not clear what business networking is, let’s just say that when you engage groups of like-minded people, business and employment opportunities have a tendency to be found, whether it’s for your benefit or someone else’s.

Getting Started
Family, friends, clients, prospects, your dentist and accountant, to your boss and the people in your office, are part of your network. Having the awareness of who is in your network will help you when you have a specific need. It may be one person or several that are able to assist you. Conversely, you may be able to assist them. In the simplest of terms, this is generally how business networking is done.

Organizing your Network
Keep an active list of people in your network with phone numbers and emails so you can touch base regularly. Enter your list in a contact management tool like Excel, ACT or MS CMS. Then, create categories or groups (ex. clients, prospects, chamber members, etc.,) that make it easy for searching and sending targeted communication, like newsletters. Then, manage your network by tracking how often you are in communication with each group.

Where to build your business network
Business networking can be done just about anywhere–A large organization, small organizations, events, trade shows, company sponsorships and charities, are just a few of the best places you can network in a face-to-face setting.
Reaching your network through Social Media, Blogs and Skype where messages can be sent to anyone around the world is a way to stay connected daily. That said; combining Internet networking methodologies with face-to-face business networking is a win/win strategy for business networking success.

Develop Your Strategy
Business networking is often strategic and involves a personal commitment. Having a strategy or plan will help you generate better results:

  • Do you want to meet decision makers?
  • Do you need resources in a vertical market?
  • Are you looking for a new job?
  • Do you need feedback on a new idea…and so forth? 

Knowing why you want to build your business network helps you stay focused in accomplishing your goals. This includes choosing events that make the most sense for you to attend or sponsor.

Networking at chamber events, business journal events, charitable events, trade shows, national and international events:
Being prepared before attending any business event is highly encouraged. Knowing what the event is about and researching the industry beforehand will prepare you for successful encounters with others. Expect industry experts to be in attendance and invest some time learning about current hot topics so that you feel comfortable conversing with them.
Arrive early so you can see the nametags of those who are expected to attend. Whenever possible, ask to see the attendee list. If you or your company is sponsoring an event, the attendee list is usually included. Look for people who may know the people you want to meet. Then, ask for an introduction.

Building Dialogue
Whether your introduction lasts for a few minutes or longer, asking questions that will engage the other person helps in developing rapport. Business topics are an easy way to establish mutual trust without getting too personal.
Your goal is to establish a connection, collect a business card, and move on to the next person. This is a courtesy to the person you just met. Then, it is your responsibility to follow up within a few days and invest in building the relationship. This is an important step to growing and sustaining your network that will pay off over time.

Networking in global, national, and regional organizations:
Where can you find valuable connections? In your own organization! As you find opportunities in other departments at your company, how will you get in front of the executive team who will hire you?
If you need to learn how a department you are interested in operates, ask some team members to lunch (this is networking). Listen for challenges that you could help solve if you were part of the team. The more knowledge you have about the department before meeting with the executive team puts you in a better position for the job.

Remember, understanding how your talents, skills and experience contribute to solving problems in the department you are applying for, is good information for your resume’. If you need help with this, email me at Also, as you grow your network internally, think of whom you can ask for a reference.

How you will introduce yourself to the executive team? Email, interoffice mail, phone, through another colleague, or while attending an event is acceptable. Mention a few ways you could help the department or team with your background. Then, send your resume’ and cover letter and follow up weekly with another idea how you would contribute. Whether you land the job or not, you will have established some credibility for yourself. This could lead to another job referral from an executive who is now a part of your network.

Networking using Social Media
Are you using Social Media regularly to build your business network? If not, you are missing out. LinkedIn is a preferred Social Media platform for business and is a great way to reach your network daily. I’ve scheduled several business meetings using LinkedIn at 10:00pm and you could too. You can learn everything about LinkedIn through its help center online. Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare are also helpful business networking tools.

LinkedIn Groups for Business Networking
Much like organizing groups into a CMS database, you can use LinkedIn Groups to do the same. The only difference is that you invite LinkedIn members already within your network to join your group. Once members join your group, you can engage them about specific business matters anytime. You can also share links to specific information that demonstrate your thought leadership in a particular area of expertise. This is great for building your personal brand and replacing traditional email.

Your Resume’ as a Network Tool
Since employers and recruiters will most likely Google you after you send your resume, using key words from your resume’ in your LinkedIn profile and other social media is a way to use your resume as a network tool. If you are using more than one social media site, it is important your message is consistent on each platform or it could impact your chances in getting hired. Thinking about your online networking strategy so that it is authentic to your personal brand and generates the results you are expecting is the way to go.

Building a Business Network for life

10 Tips for Building and Sustaining your Business Network

  1. Network outside of your organization by attending or sponsoring local events 
  2. Have a clear brand message that communicates what you do in 10 seconds 
  3. Reconnect with those from past jobs
  4. Stay in touch regularly
  5. Use a contact management system
  6. Find ways to help your network
  7. Be a thought leader in your industry
  8. Give more than you get
  9. Keep growing your network
  10. Always carry business cards

Excerpt from 101 Ways to Advance Your Career, written by Loretta Peters at DBA Competitive Edge Branding,


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