APICS The Association for Operations Management
     Advancing Productivity, Innovation, and Competitive Success

 APICS Article

Networking Nicely 

By Carleen Wong, CPIM

Networking has been around forever. It is one of the best ways to create new business contacts, gain information, find new job leads, solve problems, and gain access to mentors.

Building and nurturing a personal network is a vital part of your professional and career development strategy. Networking is the process of developing relationships and friendships that lead to things you want. It's not a one-off process, such as to quickly find a job. Rather, you are building a trusting, individual relationship for the long term, so that when you need help in the future, you can turn to your network for ideas and support, including job opportunities.

Networking is a two way street. Once you realize that you must give back in order to receive, you have taken the first step. At the most basic level, networking is about respecting people you'd like to form relationships with. Failing to appreciate how to respond to opportunities to develop relationships is the cause for most networking abuses.

So how can you be effective in networking and do it nicely? Here are some tips:

  • Starting out: If you are new to networking, begin with strategies that allow you to start the process with people you're comfortable talking with. This could be neighbors, friends from church or your child's school. Write out a list of everyone you know.
  • Set goals: Have a plan, such as attending two networking opportunities per month, making four new contacts per meeting, or volunteering for a position in a trade association. Target what you want.
  • Have a clear message: Know what you want to say and be specific, but remember networking is not a canned sales pitch. Forget trying to impress people. Tailor your message to the situation.
  • Listen first: Always listen first and do it attentively. Ask questions and para-phrase what you hear. Good networkers give contacts time to speak; some say you should listen 80% of the time on first contact. Get your contact's business card and follow-up the next day. Be grateful of their assistance and thank them.
  • Keep in contact on a regular basis: Don't let your network die. Follow-up with individuals on a regular basis, even if it's every 3-6 months. Give something back to them, such a reference to an interesting web site.

Try a couple of these techniques at the next APICS meeting. Remember, each planned contact can lead to unexpected ones, if you ask the right questions and explore the possibilities. It has been said that "Happy accidents are the rule, rather than the exception, when you network correctly."

Home | About Us | Membership | Certification | Events | Articles | Contacts | Links | Board     © Copyright 2010 Redwood Empire Chapter of APICS

Last updated: 02/10/2006