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Networking for yourself is important for building relationships that will carry into your personal and professional life. At the same time, its also important to focus on networking just for your employer.
The relationships you build for your company will be ones you can carry with you from job to job. Treat every relationship you build carefully. No matter what company you work for, you will find it valuable to have some of these people in your network.
Attend industry events
Depending on your role within your organization, you may have to attend trade shows or other industry events to either generate leads or build awareness for your company. Even if you dont have a sales or marketing role, its still good to attend these events to represent your company.
Some people may have to represent their company at a booth while others may just need to walk around the event and talk to people. Treat these events like any other networking event. Instead of focusing specifically on your personal elevator pitch, focus more on your pitch for your employer.
When you meet people, mention what you do for your company, explain what your company does, let people know what you need for your company (i.e. new customers, partners, etc.) and ask people how you or your company can help them.
Your company elevator pitch will give you good practice for when you need to use your personal pitch. Either way, its good to have more than one elevator pitch ready because you never know who youll be talking to at an event and whether youll want to talk about your company or yourself.
The people who you build relationships with for your company will be important people to have in your Rolodex. If you maintain a good relationship with these people, you should be able to keep them in your network no matter who your employer may be at the time.
If you have a sales role and you move over to a competitor or a company within the same industry, your contacts may be very valuable to your new employer. If these relationships dont carry over as clients, its still important for you to try to nurture some of these relationships so they can remain in your network.
For instance, a good networking event to generate leads is The Exchange, which will be put on by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce on April 13. Its is a semi-annual event where about 500 businesses generate leads and develop collaborative relationships with area companies.
Generate leads, sales, awareness
If you have a sales role within your organization, most of your networking will be focused on generating leads or sales for your company. If this is the case, networking will be a very important part of your job.
You will need to be an effective networker to generate leads or sales for your company. Spend time understanding your target market and do your research on where to find these potential customers.
By having a good understanding of the networking organizations and events locally, regionally and nationally, you will have a starting point of where you can go to meet the right people. Not only will you meet potential customers but you will also meet potential partners and good contacts.
Some of the people who you will meet will be able to introduce you to potential customers. You will also have to use your own network to get referrals or introductions to prospects. Whatever method you use to target your prospects, networking is a great strategy that can help you generate leads or sales.
If you dont have a sales role within your organization, its still important to represent your company when attending events or talking with others. You are merely generating awareness about your firm when you mention it in conversation.
You are indirectly selling your employer to others just by talking about it with others. At the same time, the people who you meet will have a better understanding of your current role and how it fits in with your set of skills.
When talking with others, you may offer to connect these people with others within your organization. You may end up generating a lead for a salesperson within your company, which will make you look favorable to your employer.
When you network, you need to focus on your goals and put your time and energy toward reaching those goals. Whether youre networking for yourself or your employer, you need to make sure youre focused when you meet others.
Jason Jacobsohn currently serves as the president of the DePaul Entrepreneurs Association (DEA) and sits on the board of the DePaul Business & Technology Alumni Network. He also operates his own business and networking resources Web site at Jacobsohn.com
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