13 October 2016

How to manage your time for networking and building relationships

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Talking to strangers as we go about our daily business doesn’t seem to be a problem for us, but when it comes to strangers at a networking function, we clam up? It is the same thing! Well, kind of. First of all, we’re not trying to impress that person that we’re talking to at the convenient store and we may be trying to impress that all important prospect at the networking function.
Although we’re not trying to sell in either case, when we’re at a business networking function, we’re trying to build the business relationship that could ultimately lead to a sale, a speaker or to a job offer. Business networking is the key to your business success whether you are the owner of a small boutique company or just starting out. Some people say it’s who you know that’s important but I beg to differ just a little. I believe it’s actually who knows you that is important. You want to make sure that plenty of people know who you are and what you provide.
Many professionals are perfectly aware of the importance of networking and the advantages it can bring, and yet will still probably admit to not engaging with it nearly as much as they should.
One reason is that networking isn’t something you can commit to half-heartedly. It requires a concerted effort, from simply finding new groups of people to network with, connecting in a meaningful personal or professional way – making that first contact, forging some sort of bond and then nurturing it regularly.
For others, it is the actual act itself – manoeuvring opportunities to meet people, striking up the conversation and trying to stay insightful when talking to people of greater seniority or importance. This process can cow introverts and extroverts alike.
Many people feel they simply do not have the time to do all of this on top of the demands of their job and their personal life.
Arguably, in order to build lasting business relationships, you need to change your perceptions of networking as a distinct activity but as a form of personal development. It is an opportunity to practice making valuable conversational contributions whilst at the same time staying true to your own personality. Technology has, of course, made us all networkers now anyway, with our personal and professional networks tallied up as proudly displayed numbers of followers, friends and connections.

Networking face-to-face certainly takes more effort than a couple of clicks, but if done effectively it actually allows you to generate new ideas and to generate your influence. Effective networking enables you to offer more and have more impact. 
The best part of my job as an Assistant General Manager – Production is to create and manage my own conferences from concept to delivery, identify future conference topics as well as giving me a chance to expand my business card collection. Having a bit of a sweet tooth, you will always find me having lollies on my desk or you will catch me browsing on fashion sites during lunch breaks.

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