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Shane - the first step is to define your goals from networking. What are you looking to achieve from that exercise? What will give you a sense of accomplishment after the end of the networking event?
Second step is to identify what kind of people you would like to meet through networking
Step 3: Identify events you would like to visit regularly to network. It is usually a good idea to show up at the same event over some extended period of time. If you look like a "familiar" face, people might want to walk up and talk to you.
Step 4: How to drive a networking conversation: the key emphasis areas are listening and being of service to the other. The less you talk about who you are and what you want, the better it is.
Let me know if you have any follow up questions and happy networking!
Report Ashish's answer
Simple answer...start with groups that you can join (Alumni, Ethnicity-oriented, local meetup.com groups) and start attending meetings! Try to meet 10 new people and find out what they do. Start getting in the habit of asking for business cards and writing down information about those folks. Once you meet 50-100 new people, the process will feel natural, and you can probably start branching out into groups that are more in line with the business you want to do, and start cold calling people that you research online. The key to the whole thing is to find groups where you'll be a natural member, and start getting comfortable with the whole process of meeting people, finding out more about what they do, keeping track of it, and then following up with the more interesting connections. good luck, and keep the questions coming!
Report Sol's answer
Shane, after you answer the key questions Ashish poses, then develop your "elevator speech" for various types of people that you will meet. Your elevator speech quickly discusses your commitment or passion or your goal. You must speak from the point of view of the listener (step 4 that Ashish also discusses). In this way, it is obvious to the listener if they can offer anything that you need.
Report Lori's answer
LinkedIn has been my best friend for networking. First, create a profile for yourself and your company. Then start participating in LinkedIn discussions and answering questions posted there. Join relevant LinkedIn groups and start actively participating there as well. The eventually you can create your own group and invite people to join.
There is also an application on LinkedIn to automatically post your status update on Twitter. Cross-linking like that really helps me.
Report Maria's answer
Shane- great questions and some really good answers. The first question I would ask you is what is your niche market? Who are are you marketing to? If you are not sure about this I suggest you read an article I wrote recently on why it is important to have a niche market. Then join BIznik. It is a relaly good online marketing site where you can meets lots of other mall business owners, read tons of great articles and get help! It is a sage way to begin networking because you can comment on articles, ask qustions and make friends. Let me know if I can help more.
Report Kaya's answer
LinkedIN is the best way of Professionally network without having a venue. Spend the extra money and purchase the premium version. You can search business and professionals in your same industry or venture out to prospective customers.