Want to create marketing opportunities? Try "real" networking!

friday, 5 september of 2008

Want to create marketing opportunities? Try "real" networking!

By Signe A. Dayhoff, Ph.D.

In the 1980s when Lee Iacocca was fired from Ford Motor Company, he talked with his friends and associates, including George Bennett of State Street Investment Corporation and Claud Kirk, ex-governor of Florida. In turn, they talked with Richard Dilworth, a board member of the Chrysler Corporation. Several phone calls and luncheons later Chrysler offered Iacocca its presidency. Iacocca likewise reciprocated for his networking partners when needed.

Whether we're aware of it or not, we all have a basic network of contacts that has evolved over time. It is made up of primary contacts, such as family and friends, who have similar attitudes, values, beliefs, interests, and contacts. It is also made up of secondary contacts, such as acquaintances, work colleagues, clients, and service people, who have diverse attitudes, values, beliefs, interests, and contacts.

Each contact is a potential resource because of

-- Who they are

-- What they do

-- What they know

-- Whom they know

-- Who knows them

Each of your primary and secondary network groups represents two levels of contact: those you can contact directly and immediately and those you can contact indirectly and over time because they are through someone else. It has been suggested that if you know fifty people on a first-name basis and so do all the people you know, you have available 2,500 friends of friends. The more friends and associates you have, the greater is the number of people exponentially to whom you have access.

Today in the era of e-mail you can reach networking contacts with only a click or two -- even more quickly than psychologist Stanley Milgram demonstrated with his "small world" -- six degrees of separation - experiments in the 1960s.

It's important to keep in mind that networking does not mean going to any and every business or social gathering. You want to choose your gatherings carefully so that they represent avenues to reach your goals. For example, you would choose gatherings to be attended by people with information, abilities, experience, or expertise you want to tap into, and/or people of influence. Furthermore, whenever possible, you want to have a solid sense of who will be there that you may wish to contact, know something about them (what they do and their interests), and why you want to create a relationship with them.

You are likely to be more successful in networking and creating opportunities for yourself if you build your networking contacts with two goals in mind. The first is to make yourself well-known by providing assistance to others in need, and doing so without expectation of reward. The second is to have a specific goal in mind for which you are seeking assistance. Erroneously, people tend to equate only the second goal with networking and then act on that alone. This is ineffective, inefficient, and unproductive and does not create a positive impression.

It's essential that you never use your networking to try to sell yourself or make the other person a client.

Of the two, however, volunteering help is by far the more important because it fosters good will, expands your sphere of influence, and creates a positive impression of you. You are seen as a generous, reliable, and valued resource for your skills, talents, abilities, values, tips, advice, information, referrals, and leads. You become both visible and credible -- a success- and opportunity-bolstering combination.

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About the author: Dr. Dayhoff is an interpersonal communications and social anxiety expert who helps independent professionals present and promote themselves confidently and professionally with dignity … to create profitable visibility and credibility … and attract their ideal clients without selling. She is also author of Create Your Own Career Opportunities, a guide to marketing through networking and mentors.)

© Copyright Signe A. Dayhoff, Effectiveness-Plus LLC.