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Social media allow us to discover and connect with people who might be interesting in our professional lives. One of the keys to successful networking is to know how to make a clear and effective connection, without wasting anybody’s time. The least convenient for our business is to become the 'annoying friend' everybody avoids. If we apply the following guidelines systematically, success is guaranteed.
1. Find the right channel and draw an action plan.
Social networks are extremely varied nowadays, and each of our potential customers may prefer one over other. Make a preliminary study and check out which is the best way of communication in each case. Do they have a website where they encourage participation? Do they use their profile in Facebook for professional purposes? Are they active tweeters? Find out where they feel most comfortable and contact them through that network.
Equally important is to draw an action plan detecting which individuals or groups might benefit us the most. In addition, according to prestigious publications such as Forbes, it’s convenient to establish some daily goals to set our priorities.
2. Brief, concise and attractive messages.
New technologies help us to contact with an enormous number of people, but in contrast we have very little attention span. Don't assume the reader has time to go over 500 words. Be brief, don't overdo the text, and try to write something ‘catchy’. It isn’t necessary to include all the information in the first contact.
3. Keep your promises.
Even for simple tasks such as answering an e-mail or arriving on time to a lunch appointment, it’s very important that you take care of your manners. Meeting the expectations will help you create a good reputation, something every networker wants.
4. No pressure.
Whether it's via e-mail or if you have met somebody for the first time to discuss a subject, don' take the liberty of demanding an answer. If that person is interested he will contact you.
5. Extract important information.
Before attending a networking event use social media to extract the information that most interests you. Knowing something about the others may be key to establish a solid relationship. Have a look at their LinkedIn profiles, read their articles or posts (if any) and make yourself an overall idea about their personality. Is he an entrepreneur who boasts of working all day sacrificing his personal life? Or is he a more concise and operative type of guy? Knowing such clues may help you pave the way.
6. Work on the relationship, not the objective.
When it comes to networking, a common mistake is to concentrate exclusively on getting that meeting or encounter we wish. Thus, if our initial proposal doesn't go forward we are closing doors to future successful communications. However, if we cultivate more the relationship and make the other person feel comfortable, although nothing may happen at that time we already have a link with chances of future success.
7. Don’t seem needy and keep your manners.
Your messages can’t seem needy. If you include phrases such as "I really need to talk to you", you're showing an insecurity which denotes nothing positive. Stay open to contact and dialogue, and be prepared for a resounding 'no', as to the total lack of response.
Remember also that your actions and education are your brand. Don’t make careless mistakes such as interrupting a conversation, answer the phone chewing gum or react badly to a negative.
8. Leave enough space.
If the contacted person receives many e-mails from you every day or feels overwhelmed, he might think that he will not have enough time to meet your demands and will lose interest. The relationship must have air and breathing space; that's why it's always good to leave a reasonable time pass even when answering e-mails. Unless it's something urgent, you should wait a bit before sending a response, and shorten that time when the relationship is close and fluid, as many experts advise.
9. Don’t beat around the bush.
If, for example, the purpose of an e-mail is to meet for lunch and treat certain subject, try to say it as clearly as you can. Don´t mention it in the last line or beat around the bush before raising it. Whether the person is interested or not, he'll appreciate the clarity and brevity of the approach. You must be aware that you're asking a favour, and value as well the time of the person you're contacting.
10. Identify opportunities to help others.
Networking is nothing more than a net that gets fed back with actions. If during an exchange of information or when visiting profiles in other’s social networks you see an opportunity to help, just do it. Introduce those two people who want the same thing without knowing it, and try to help whenever you can. This will make you be in the minds of many and multiply your opportunities. As we mentioned before, it's all about building lasting relationships.
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