Networking, is not a social myth. Networking, meeting people face to face, or in some way either online, or through friends, coworkers, family, whomever, meeting people connected to specific topics, talents, or what have you, is one of the most powerful tools there are in making it beyond where you find yourself now.
Here are a few tips from the book, "Getting Started as a Freelance Writer", by Robert W. Bly. In that book he says that "networking expert Donna Fisher estimates that 70 percent of jobs, for example, are found through networking." Then he quotes Steve Fishman in "Success" magazine, as defining Networking as, "the single-minded pursuit of useful contacts at every convention, seminar, or neighborhood barbecue. To the networked, every strange represents an opportunity, the chance to find prospects, reach targets, or meet friends."
Then Robert offers some additional networking tips:
- Determine the mode of attendance with which you're most comfortable. Some of us are most comfortable going to our first meeting of a group accompanied by a friend who is already a member.I am most comfortable networking at events where I am an exhibitor or speaker.
- Don't be a wallflower. Walk over to people and make conversation.
- Get a drink from the bar and hold onto it, even if you don't drink. Having a glass in hand can help shy people overcome nervousness.
- Do not sell while networking. Your purpose is to make contacts, not to get clients to sign a purchase order.
- Listen more than you speak. Focus on what others are interested in, "When you have your attention on something other than yourself, your self-consciousness will disappear and others will be more likely to remember and appreciate you," says Fisher.
- Dress in proper business attire. Your comfortable, well-worn writing clothes are not appropriate for a business gathering.
- Don't rush out the door as soon as the event is over. "The best contacts I've made have happened after an event--in the bathroom, elevator, lobby, or even on the street." notes Benun. "That's when people's minds are open to it. That's when their defenses are down."
- When you get home, follow up by sending people a short note that says, "It was a pleasure meeting you; let's keep in touch." You might also enclose another business card, a brochure about your services, or a reprint of a recent article you wrote.
And, best of luck!