Author: Karen Susman

Networking can be a hard an intimidating thing for some people and yet networking is critical to what we do as communicators! To help you maximize your networking prowess check out the following networking tips from Karen Susman.

Networking Maxim #1: Treat each person with respect.
Relationships build according to your expectations. No one – night stands! If you meet someone and immediately decide there is no future value in the relationship, you will treat that person differently than if you think he or she represents the opportunity of a lifetime. So, approach each person you meet as if that person has great promise. Then you won't have to change your tone or tune, should you discover the relationship has potential.
1. Practice deferring judgment and treating each person with respect. You never know.
2. Ask open-ended questions to get beyond the surface with people you meet.

Networking Maxim #2: Familiarity breeds familiarity.
The more times you interact with someone, the greater the mutual understanding and cooperation likely to develop. Meeting someone once doesn't make for a relationship. Follow up and keep in touch often. It's never too late to reignite a relationship.
1. Contact or recontact three people you met within the last month.
2. Contact three people you haven't talked to in the last year. Always determine the next step, the next contact, so the relationship will continue.

Networking Maxim # 3: Speak to strangers. You’ll learn something.
Break out of your comfort zone and associate with people who are not like you. The aging hippie may be a retired mogul. Force yourself to go to meetings, classes and events that are out of your usual realm.
1. Walk up to an imperfect stranger at an event and start a conversation.
2. Attend a trade show or meeting that is not in your field.

Networking Maxim #4: Mix it up to maximize your world.
Diversify your contacts to reduce overlap and increase leveraging. If your sphere of contacts includes only your high school and college friends, chances are you all know the same people. But, if you ask, "Whom do you know who...?" of your T'ai Chi master, librarian and new neighbor, the answers will probably be non-overlapping and fresh names.
1. Review your contacts and build on the diverse relationships.
2. Ask people who are in the fringes of your Rolodex (real or figuratively) for help, information, contacts, etc. Uncover the gold you've overlooked.

Those are some wise word from Karen Susman! Be sure to be these tips to work and help make the most of your IABC membership though the power of networking!

About Karen Susman

Karen is a nine time presenter at IABC’s World Conferences and has also spoken for several IABC chapters and districts including South Africa. Karen has worked with IABC members to laugh more, network more effectively, and build their chapter engagement. Since 1983, Karen has spoken internationally on Communication and Wellness areas. Her programs on Humor, Life Balance, and Stress and Resiliency are perfect for workshops as well as keynotes. The Wall Street Journal cited Karen as a networking expert. www.karensusman.com