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Boost Your Career With Networking by Amy Tsui

Are you trying to increase your current sales figures? Are you unhappy at your current job and looking for a change? You may even be considering starting your own business! Whatever challenge you may be facing now, you are likely to need good connections with people willing to help you out.

Know that the bases of such connections are trust and respect and can only be earned over time - so you need to build those connections as early as possible in your career.

A few years ago, before the emergence of networking sites, the best way to network and build valuable connections was rather random - either meeting people through existing contacts or attend networking events. Nowadays, networking sites are important tools that can help you expand your personal network. The purpose of this article is to provide you with tips on how to use these sites effectively.

1. Do not limit yourself to business networking sites

There are two types of networking sites: social networking sites, which are geared towards reuniting with old friends, keeping in touch with current friends, meeting new people or dating, and business networking sites, which are geared towards building the valuable business connections that you are looking for. Some examples are:

Social networking sites:

Classmates.com
Facebook.com
Friendster.com
MySpace.com

Business networking sites:

Daikana.com
Jigsaw.com
LinkedIn.com
Ryze.com

The purpose of registering on networking sites is to get to know people before meeting in person. Chances are, individuals who create profiles on business networking sites also have profiles on social networking sites. Being able to review both will give you a better understanding of who that person is and find topics of conversation or common interests.

2. Create accounts on as many sites as possible

Networking sites are built around similar concepts, but they usually offer different features. For example, Facebook is made up of separate networks based around schools, companies or regions. On the other hand, MySpace enables users to customize their profiles heavily with movies, music and other Medias.

LinkedIn is great to help individuals find new jobs whereas Daikana is geared towards organization and offers a large variety of enterprise tools for project management, document processing, calendaring etc... Registering on multiple sites will help you meet more people or see different aspects of a same person. To be easily recognizable, make sure to use the same main picture on all your profiles.

3. Schedule an event

Once you know more about one or several individuals that you are interested in meeting you should schedule an event and ask your friends, coworkers or contacts to bring them along. Be sure to schedule an event they will be interested in joining, whatever it is from just a dinner to watching an opera, based on what you know about them. At this point, it is better to meet in person than be introduced online.

The individuals that you want to network with do not have to be aware that the purpose of the event is for you to meet them, so do not be too eager to ask for phone numbers or business cards. The goal of the event is for them to have a good time with you, to appreciate your qualities and to want to meet with you again.

4. Follow up and build actual relationships

The following day or couple of days you should send emails to the people you've met and add them as friends or contacts. You shouldn't be shy about doing this, usually people that you barely know, as long as you've actually met them, will add you to their network.

You should keep on growing your personal network that way - by slowly meeting and adding new people. There is no easy way around it: you have to commit time and effort to building your network; networking sites are just a tool to help you meet new people - you should always remember that the bases of a good connection are trust and respect.


Amy Tsui, MBA works for a leading aircraft and aerospace manufacturer.

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