Trying to squeeze business opportunity out of this economy is an arduous task at best. And as job numbers remain shakier than the Pacific Rim, the term “it’s who you know” is more relevant than ever for career development.
“Networking is something you should continually be doing,” says Ronn Torossian, CEO of the New York City-based 5W Public Relations firm. “It’s kind of like dating. Until you’re married, you always have to be dating. And when you’re married, you’re working on your relationship.”
That means networking can’t be something you put on a to-do list and check off once a month, and it needn’t be scheduled. “I was sitting next to this woman while having a pedicure and we started talking,” recalls Ross Ellis, CEO of Love Our Children USA, a national nonprofit working to break the cycle of violence against children and a New York City real estate agent with Halstead Property. One thing led to another, and soon Ellis had a speaking engagement for her charity: “She was a teacher and I asked her if she had a lot of bullying in her school.”
Sounds simple, but rub new contacts the wrong way and your network will shrink, not expand. Here’s how to become an expert networker, without ever being annoying, or worse, looking desperate: