Practice effective networking and you'll build a network quickly

On a recent pleasure trip to Vancouver Island, I fell into conversation with a local on the bus. He invited me to visit the town library and meet his wife, the director. I sit on a library board, so this was a wonderful networking opportunity, except for one thing. I hadn’t packed business cards.

That’s one of the networking no-nos in former Vancouver Board of Trade director Darcy Rezac, Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, and Judy Thomson’s new book on networking, Work the Pond! Their networking tips, many basic but easily forgotten -- like the advice to pack your business cards wherever you go -- can take you from networking wallflower to star.

The Key to Successful Networking

Work the Pond! sums it up in one principle that erases networking’s bad-salesman aura forever. It’s not about what they can do for you; it’s about what you can do for them. (And if you think networking is too superficial, Rezac and co. point out that 80% of job leads come from far, not near acquaintances, meaning fleeting contacts can be important.)

Meeting People: Dos and Don’ts

Don’t waste your time at a work or professional event sticking to and talking with people you already know. If your boss paid for you to be there, she does want you circulating and meeting new people. (Make sure to practice gracefully ending conversations as well as beginning them – you want to meet more than one new person per event, right?)

After the First Meet: Now What?

Research your new acquaintance -- not in stalker fashion, but so you'll have something to talk about the next time you meet. Then get in touch when you have something to offer, whether it’s an introduction, opportunity, or piece of useful news.

By being a resource for others, you’ll both build a network – and the satisfaction – and/or new job – that comes with it.