For many of us, networking, either online or face-to-face, can be a daunting task.  The endless self promotion posted on social networking sites and blogs such as Twitter or Facebook and business networking sites such as Linked In can induce a sense of inadequacy in many of us.

So why the growing popularity of different networking techniques and can they really help people find another job or to build their business?

People ultimately buy “people”. We like to know who we are dealing with and how they can help us. Networking therefore can be very beneficial but fails when would-be networkers lack clarity and focus and can’t explain their skills and needs.

Whether networking face-to-face or using a business networking site there are some simple rules to follow:

  • Have your own 30 second advert. When someone asks you ‘so what do you do?’ be prepared with a short answer.Most people will give you one minute to introduce what you do so make it count!
  • Relating to the above, get your profile right on networking sites. It’s your window on the world and must sell your skills and explain how you can help people.
  • Use networking sites proactively. Connect with those you like and trust, and include them on your network.
  • Ask for recommendations from business colleagues about your skills and abilities. Look for endorsements where you can and add these to your profile.
  • Target companies and people you want to work for/with.Look at the networks of people in your network and if you find they know people you want to talk to, ask for an introduction.It is estimated that 75% of jobs are filled by recommendation before the job is advertised.
  • When you meet someone for the first time, don’t sell, network. The purpose of networking is to spend time with other people, get to know them, and find out some information that can be followed up later on.Save the sales pitch for another time.
  • Remember when networking you are using it to help find a job or to build your business further, so pay attention to the people you meet and what they say.
  • Don’t act as if you are desperate.People generally like to talk to upbeat and confident people.You certainly won’t attract anyone if you act as though you are desperate for a job or new business.
  • Be interesting.People like to talk with interesting people so do some homework.Plan a couple of topics that you can bring up and that you will enjoy discussing.
  • Listen, listen and listen again.Pay attention to what people are telling you, and search for problems that you can solve.Follow up with your solution in business time.

Don’t forget that others will form an opinion of you from your interactions whether networking online or face-to-face.  So treat everyone with respect, don’t make negative comments about anyone and give as much as you can without expectation of receiving something in return.