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Creating Successful Leaders

By Margaret Smith, UXL: Creating Successful Leaders

Networking… Just the shear mention of the word makes my knees buckle and my deodorant is challenged.

Networking is, however, one of the most important skills to perfect, no matter where you are on your career journey. Did you know that more than 80% of jobs today are found through contacts, not over the internet or by blindly sending a resume.

You’ve probably familiar with the phrase “It’s who you know, not what you know”, and for a period of time, a lot of us could afford to ignore this little axiom. Well, the times certainly have changed. Now, more and more people are discovering the truth behind this common message.

Today, your contacts (and your contact’s contacts) are the real door openers to the interview.

Networking is essential to the job hunt, but it’s not limited to those looking for employment. Even if you currently have a job, a new position may be searching for you. If you don’t have the right connections internally your name may not come up—opportunity missed!

No Sweat, No Fail Networking

The first step is to figure out where to go. Where can you find the people that you need to meet—where do they hang out? Find the events and activities that attract the people and organizations you need or want to meet.

The 3 Parts of Successful Networking:

1) Know your Audience: Who will be there? Who do I need/want to meet? How do I “show up”?
2) Have an Objective: Is my objective to collect 15 business cards or to meet the 3 most influential people at the event? You will achieve what you set your mind to do.
3) Be Prepared and Practice: Know how you will introduce yourself, what you do or what you want. Make sure you have a request ready, such as “May I call you next week to set up some time to learn more?” or “Whom in your organization is involved in what I am interested in?” or “Who do you suggest I meet here tonight?”

Practice is the fun part. Stand in front of the mirror, watch your body language, smile, and figure out ways to share your energy so people enjoy their encounter with you.

Don’t forget to follow up via phone or email with the people you meet and remind them of something from your conversation.

Okay, now my knees stopped shaking and I am writing down my introduction so I can practice for that event on Monday night…Good luck!


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