Sunday 7 February 2010

Effective networking - Preparing to make contact

We usually feel comfortable getting in touch with our primary contacts for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that we have an idea of the response we are likely to receive.

Occasionally, we may feel a little embarrassed at asking for help, but when we consider it the other way round there is no need. If someone were to telephone you requesting ideas and advice, your reaction would be to help as much as possible.

You are not the first or only person who has the need to expand a business and it is more than likely that some of your primary contacts will have shared the same experience or have a relation who has done so.

When it comes to referred contacts, it is not so much embarrassment as fear that makes us apprehensive. This is normally based upon two main concerns:

• Being unaware of what to expect when contacting someone who is busy and doesn't know you

• Being afraid that someone will refuse to help

lf you feel like this, then you are not alone" As one director of a large company said, "When I was with my old company, I could just give my name and the company's name and I would be put through and listened to immediately, but I'm not sure now".

It is worth looking at these concerns in a little more detail.

• Being unaware of what to expect. Fear of the unknown is nearly always based on the fact that people have not tried to network before, or have done so once in a half-hearted way. lt is essential to prepare thoroughly and practice making telephone calls before making the first contact. This will help to dispel the fear and ensure the process is much more successful. Those who have worked hard at it have found how useful it is and continue to keep their contacts alive and keep making new ones .

• Being afraid that someone will refuse to help you. This has much in common with the first concern. People who have used networking, in establishing and promoting themselves, will tell you it is rarely they get an outright rejection. The contact may not be able to give any useful advice or help, but that is a different matter and quite acceptable.

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