(Written by Patrick Crawley)
To achieve maximum benefits while attending any function where the opportunity for networking exists, it is important to have a clear understanding of networking. You will notice that my definition of networking has two parts: #1 - helping others, and #2 - helping yourself, in that order.
So... what's this about expecting nothing in return? Often, we expect people who we help to help us. That would be nice, but it doesn't always work that way. Some people are in better positions to help others. Just give - that's the key! Just give, willingly. It will come back to you. Help people and you get helped! Have no expectations about where your assistance should come from. Just give, and keep on giving. It will come, often when you least expect it and when you most need it.
To use networking as an effective business tool; to use it to help you make productive business links, you must first grasp the concept and engage in it relentlessly. Network all the time. Never stop networking. Please stop and review the definition of networking once again.
Many people use business meetings, Chamber "After Hours", conventions, association meetings, trade shows, Junior Chamber of Commerce meetings, civic gatherings, etc., as functions at which to prospect, to look for new customers. That is never my priority.
It has been my experience that a much better way to maximize your networking efforts is to use this time as an opportunity to develop important new business contacts, not necessarily prospects, although often prospects show up where you least expect them. The emphasis must be on developing new business connections.
Find ways you can help others FIRST!
"Networking is... using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals... expecting nothing in return!" - Larry James