Do you network to 'pitch' your firm and get clients? Or do you network to build a bond with someone in your field? Whether you network for selfish reasons (getting clients) or a personal connection, it works, and statistics support its value:

» Eighty percent of all professional oppor- tunities are found through networking. *

» Effective networking can increase busi- ness performance by 30 percent. **

Networking is a two-way street. Your side of the street is about helping others, not asking them to help you. Asking for favors only becomes a possibility once you have provided some value to the other person. Think: What do you have to offer? In the meantime, find networking events that you will enjoy and find valuable. Maybe it’s a Young Professionals group in your city, or a Rotary Club where your colleague is on the membership commit- tee and knows every member by name. Go to events that will help you network with people who do what you do or who you want to know.

Then, practice your networking savvy:

» Have a plan once you arrive. Scan nam- etags at the registration table and pick two or three people you want to meet.

» Leave your friends. Remember you are working, so step out of your comfort zone.

» Create a positive impression with your appearance, open body language, smile and handshake. Then, be on your guard.

» Have an interesting and intriguing 10-second introduction when someone asks you what you do.

Be prepared to network everywhere you go. Always have your business cards or mobile gadget with you to exchange contact information with someone. And remember that if you’re starting to relax at a network- ing event, chances are you’re doing some- thing wrong—like boring the person you’re talking to, checking your text messages or feeling the effects of one too many glasses of wine!

*Source: The Professional Edge, Inc. 2014 survey of 100 professionals
**Source: Global Advisory Companies in US

Lynne Breil has brought her message of personal polish and politeness to organizations nationwide for 20 years. A former Miss America Semi-Finalist and a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Lynne is a well- regarded expert on the topics of business behavior, presentation skills and professional communications.

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