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“Business Networking-What’s that?”, asked the young software professional. When we spoke of it as being an essential part of career development, he was shocked. He told me, in all honesty, that the only networking he knew was the MSCE Networking essentials. He also knew about  basic wiring and network components like bridges, routers, switches, cabling types and patch panels. For him a network was a system of interconnected communication devices that can communicate with one another and share information.

I told him that business networking was not very different. Rather similar to his definition of computer networking, business networking is a process of developing professional relationships with contacts within and outside your organization with whom you share your knowledge. It is characterized by mutual advantage where you and the other person gain from the relationship.

A friend of mine is excellent in networking. He has contacts in different spheres relating to his work and interests. He can put you on to the best business coach, the best architect, the best doctor, the best caddy and the best tour operator.

Networking takes time and effort. Relationships have to be nurtured with care. They tend to fall apart if they are perceived to be one sided. If you are perceived to take more than you give, people would, with justification, question the motives of your attempts to network.

Stephanie Speisman writes in 10 Tips for Successful Business Networking : Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.

What matters is not the number of contacts you have but the relationship you enjoy with them. Exchanging business cards and dashing off to catch the next guy is not networking. One of the challenges in networking is to stay in touch.  See what Harvey McKay has to say about The Most Important Things A Network Can Do and Biggest Networking Mistakes.

Enjoy the many advantages of having a well-oiled network. As McKay says- and that’s the title of his book – ” Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty”.

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