Money & Career

11 secrets of effective networking

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

11 secrets of effective networking

Networking really is like exercise. It's good for you on multiple levels and has untold benefits that you might never actually see. Just as there are lots of fun ways to get physical activity besides thumping the Stairmaster feeling like you are getting nowhere, there are plenty of entertaining ways to Chat & Hum. Here are a few of our favourites:

1. If you are a gym rat, go to the best gym you can afford. Ask around your office and sign up for the gym that the execs go to. Nothing like Chatting & Humming in the showers. Don't try to chat with people while they are working out, though. Pretend you are serious about exercise. Suck up a spinning class.

2. Take every possible opportunity for training. Go to seminars, trade shows, and as many professional development classes as your company will foot the bill for. If they won't pay for any, tell your folks you want a gift certificate to teh local college or other continuing-education venue for your birthday. Get in those classes and sharpen those claws.

3. If your industry involves travel opportunities, take them. Don't be the one stuck home watching the phone board not light up, unless you are doing it as a deliberate, heroic favour that someone influential will truly appreciate and remember. Once we strong-armed our friend Ayn, a shy divorcee, to go on a press trip that she didn't want to go on. But off she went. Ayn ended up Chatting & Humming like a pro and came home not only with a bunch of great new Chums but also with a most excellent guy who later became her hubby!

4. If you are travelling for work -- say, to a trade show -- ask around to find out who else in the industry, or in your office, is going. Call each person on the list, introduce yourself if you don't already know him or her, and make a date for a meal, a quick coffee, or a floor walk during the show. Invite people to see you at your booth, babe.

5. When travelling, skip room service. Don't eat cheap; use the expense account to Chat & Hum with the most Uppity Uppers who are willing to be seen in public with you.

6. Go to every single stupid company function. The picnic, the Christmas party, the award ceremony. Smile. Bring your most handsome and/or accomplished escort with you to get those colleagues buzzing, a close cousin to Humming. Do not get sloppy drunk no matter how much you feel you need to relax, and don't Chat about work except to drop the most subtle clues about how interesting the projects you are working on are.

7. Be a do-gooder. Find a charity to actively support. It can be in your church or temple, the local schools, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, whatever. It gives you something to say about yourself, you'll feel like a good and noble human being, and chances are good you'll meet some high-powered executives there. Part of the secret of truly successful people is that they make time to volunteer. The COO of Royal Caribbean International and Carnival Cruises, presumably a busy guy, once took the time to train for 10 months, covering 700 miles, to be in shape for the New York City Marathon. He ran it in five hours and 22 minutes and in doing so raised $300,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Find a cause and make the time to support it -- you'll never be sorry.

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Excerpted from The Big Sister's Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz. Copyright 2005 by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz. Excerpted with permission from Fireside Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.

8. Go to your alumni reunions: high school, college, camp, it matters not. Just go. You have a natural connection with these groups.

9. Go to places where other professionals who are not necessarily in your industry congregate. Art shows, adventure tours, adult education classes, the bookstore, lecture series, book readings, and the like. Read the weekend section of your local paper to find out what's happening where, and go. Flo, go.

10. Join industry groups and other professional organizations and participate in them as much as possible. Do not put off doing this for even one more week. If you don't know which to join, that's a perfect question to ask an exec to begin a mentor relationship. And no, sending in $25 for the PBS fund-raiser and getting a tote bag is not what we're talking about here. Try something more like the Association for Women in Communication (womcom.org). Go on your industry website and see what associations look good to you. You can sign up online for most organizations, and the membership dues are tax-deductible. The relationships you build in a professional organization will outlast just about any job. When you join, recognize the commitment you are making -- everyone else will. We learned the hard way that giving organizations you join a priority in your monthly schedule is Ka-Roo-Shill.

11. Build your base of Chums through a variety of social events that expose you to new people and new interests. Join a book group (or start one) or form a dinner group, and each month have one person in the group bring a new person as a guest. Tap into the local college. Talk to everyone.

Are you getting the idea here? Get out of your office, get out of your house, get out of your rut, and get looking for a job -- everywhere and anywhere. And no matter where you find yourself, be it the Laundromat or a lecture, make it a point to connect in some way with the people you find there. You just don't know if that person sitting next to you at jury duty could be the connecting thread to your future unless you strike up a little Chat. (OK, here's our dirty little secret. We call it Always Looking for a Job, but normal people call it Having an Interesting Life. Sssshhh.)

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Excerpted from The Big Sister's Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz. Copyright 2005 by Marcelle DiFalco and Jocelyn Greenky Herz. Excerpted with permission from Fireside Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.

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11 secrets of effective networking

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