Networking for Success.

It’s such an overused phrase now: “networking for success”. Everyone uses it, everyone knows that without networking there is no climb up the career ladder, no growth of one’s entrepreneurial enterprise, but do we know how to do it?

Here are the Four Immutable Laws of Networking:

You’ve got to show up.
Logical, isn’t it? How can you “network”, if you don’t show up, if you don’t communicate? Whether it is in an on-line discussion, or a neighborhood café or the symphony – you’ve got to show up.

You’ve got to participate.
Also makes sense, right? Showing up and not speaking up does not work. You’ve got to engage, start or join a conversation. It also means being allowed to participate. We’ve all been there, at a “networking event” where one person dominates the conversation. Often it’s someone who really has nothing contributory to say, but who is so convinced of his or her own superiority that he or she claims the floor and does not easily relinquish it. Cause a distraction (stare over the group’s shoulders towards the entrance, as if you’re seeing Beyoncé enter the room), and then start a conversation of your own with the two or three people standing closest to you.

Follow up, follow up, follow up.
Going to a networking event, coming home with a handful of business cards, shoving them in a drawer and planning to go to the next event is an exercise in futility. You might as well have stayed home and watched an American Idol Rewind. Following up is hard work – indeed, networking is hard work! – but you won’t get very far without it. You don’t have to become best friends with everyone you meet at a networking event, but pick out one or two people who sounded interesting, call them or send them an e-mail. Suggest getting together for breakfast in the coming weeks, or a drink after work.

You’ve got to Give before you can Get.
A man who came to one of my networking classes a few years ago told me afterwards that he had never known how to do it right. “Before,” he said, “ I would walk around the room, give everyone my business card and ask if they had any job leads (he had been a Sales VP for a software company before the dotcom bust and never regained a comparable position); it never occurred to me to inquire about their interests.” And that, in networking, is the bottom line! Sure, let everyone know what you are looking for, but listen first, and be sure to say what you have to offer – in what industries do you have connections, from what city where you still know dozens of influential people have you just moved, is your aunt married to Clint Eastwood’s cousin and will you be happy to make the connection for someone looking for an introduction to Hollywood?

Now go do it; the laws are on your side!

Author's Bio: 

Lya Sorano is a Writer, an Internet Strategist, and a Certified Master Gardener. She has been published internationally and written most frequently about international business, the role of women in the international business arena and information technology. Her gardening columns have appeared in a variety of newspapers, and when she is not busy tending her own eclectic garden, you can sometimes find her teaching networking, marketing or PR classes.