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Why Networking is Your Golden Key to a Better Life -- No Matter What Your Goals

When it comes to looking for a new job or changing careers, not even a stunning resume and first-rate interview can compare to the subtle art of networking. Quite literally, knowing the right people and, and this is key, getting them to know you, can get you hired or promoted faster than all the hard work in the world.

Networking with personal friends, neighbors and other people in your "circle" can be just as beneficial as networking with business ties.

As it turns out, networking has a "magical" ability to lend other good things to your life as well. Talk to the lady at the health food store and she may tell you about a supplement to help your achy elbow. Network at your block party and you may find out who is the best physician in town, what brand of lawnmower not to buy and where to get the best deal on your next vacation.

Networking Basics

The bottom line to networking is building relationships. Simply introducing yourself to someone at an event, and never following up or maintaining any contact, is not networking. What is networking is, after making an introduction and small talk, finding the common ground that you share with this particular individual. Believe it or not, with a little digging you should be able to find common ground with just about anyone.

In a business sense, making connections is relatively simple. You're all in the same industry, the key is finding out how your roles are interconnected -- and where one person can benefit another, and vice versa. There are sure to be many events -- meetings, conferences, office parties, trade shows, plane rides and dinners -- so putting yourself out there will not take too much of a stretch.

In a personal sense, networking is more vague, but still highly valuable. Since meetings are more random, and driven by you, the key here is establishing relationships with those in your community. This includes not only your neighbors but also clerks at stores you frequent, restaurant owners, hairdressers, teachers, members of your book club and more.

The more people you know -- and keep in regular touch with -- the more you will find that you know exactly who to ask when you're looking for a great auto mechanic, pet kennel, tutor, etc., as if you're on the "A-list" for everything. In fact, you will be on the "A-list."

Quick Networking Tips

  • Mingle: don't spend the whole time talking to people you already know

  • Work the room: after 10 minutes, politely excuse yourself to talk to someone else

  • Dress appropriately: not too revealing, casual or formal, depending on the event

  • Limit drinking: don't lose your inhibitions, try to make your best impression

  • Act as though you are the host: make a point to introduce yourself to each person at the event

  • Small talk first: don't move right into business talk, take a little time to break the ice first

  • Listen: monopolizing the conversation is a surefire way to turn people off, be interested in other people

  • Learn the art of give and take: don't abuse a new relationship by asking for too much, not keeping your own promises or not reciprocating favors or showing appreciation when it's due

  • Follow-up: Maintain contact with your new acquaintances in the short- and long-term

Where to Network For ...

Remember, business networking isn't only for boardrooms and trade shows. Some of the best networking opportunities occur over lunch, on a plane ride or walking down the street.

Networking can occur anytime, anywhere, as long as you are open to it. Keep an eye out to networking during all of your daily activities: at the gym, at the grocery store, in your office building, at your child's school, etc. However, if you're looking for more organized networking, consider volunteering in the industry you're interested in or attending trade shows.

The Internet is another emerging networking tool, and many online communities exist where you can find tips on networking events in your area, or even do your networking online.

At, we too rely on networking as a way to share our information, and word of mouth is our biggest supporter. If you appreciate the newsletter, please also recommend it to those you come across in your networking (or send them this article to help them get their own networking started).

And please also take advantage of the networking resources below. We've compiled a wide array of networking opportunities for all types of industries and personal pursuits that you can use as a launch pad to your new connections.

Recommended Reading

The 10 Best Careers -- By Starting Salary, Best Benefits, Job Satisfaction & More

The Serious Health Risks of Loneliness & The Healing Power of Friendship


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