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RAMSEY: Networking requires more than your contact list

All business people are networkers whether they realize it or not. If they’re not, they need to be or they will soon be out of business. Some people are more effective networkers than others. They work at it with purpose while others wander aimlessly through the process.

  • When and where can you find opportunities to network? The answer is simple: anytime, anywhere.

Every time you meet someone, greet someone, pick up the phone, send an e-mail message, engage someone in conversation, write a note (yes, people still write notes), you’re networking.

You don’t have to attend a community function, an afterhour’s reception, a fundraising event, a meeting or a conference to network. Anytime you interact with another person, you’re networking. It can happen at the mall, the grocery store, the post office, walking the dog, riding in an elevator or waiting for your next flight to take off.

  • What do you need to understand about networking to be effective?

The purpose of business networking is to build relationships and grow your business, but you can’t be successful at networking if you don’t understand what it is. Some people think that it’s who you know and others believe that it’s who knows you. Networking is a combination of those two and more.

Business networking is about what you know, and more importantly, it’s about who knows that you know what you know. (Try saying that fast three times in a row.)

It’s not enough to be famous if no one understands what makes you famous. As part of your networking strategy, be clear about who you are, what you do and what you have to offer. Your area of expertise and the unique skills you possess are what others need to know.

  • How can you be sure that people know that you know what you know? By being visible and by using every opportunity to showcase your expertise. And by preparing that infamous elevator speech. You know, the one you can deliver in 30 to 60 seconds, the time it takes to ride between floors on an elevator—hence the name.

Your elevator speech needs to be a capsulizd version of what you do, how you do it, who you work with and what results or solutions you offer. It needs to be interesting and spark curiosity.

Your elevator pitch shouldn’t be a static, memorized statement. Instead of a canned, formulaic, verbatim regurgitation, engage your listener by asking a question posed as a problem that your product or service solves.

Once people know that you know what you know, you become the expert and the “to-go-to” person. It’s a lot easier to have people come to you rather than having to chase them down. Would you agree?

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-598-9812 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more .

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