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Secrets of ‘Super Networking

Cheri S. Hill

Networking is much more than meeting someone and getting a business card to add to your collection.

It’s much more than “working a room” and handing out a stack of your own cards.

It is a vitally important skill that most people don’t take seriously enough. (In fact, most people are bad at it.)

Good networking will enhance both your personal and professional life by increasing your power, position and influence, and quality of life. It’s a lifestyle, not a workstyle. Top networkers don’t even know they are networking because for them it’s a way of life. They network because they love helping people and playing matchmaker.

It starts with the understanding that networking is a reciprocal process based on the exchange of ideas, advice, information, referrals, leads, and contacts where resources are shared and acknowledged. Zig Ziglar said it best, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Whenever you meet someone if you pay attention (that means listening with your ears, eyes, head, and heart) and be open to opportunity, you will find out how easy it is to turn serendipity into success. Have you ever struck up a conversation with a stranger and realized they just become a solution to a problem you were having? Or met someone who had to make their own salsa because of allergies, then bottled and wrapped them up as holiday gifts, found people would pay real money to buy them, and now has a successful business? Anyone who has ever had “lucky” experiences involving coincidence, happenstance, and timing were, to a one, open.

You’ve heard luck is when preparation meets opportunity. We create our own luck when we are prepared to see the opportunities and willing to take action. Opportunity is all around us. I firmly believe you will become far more successful if you recognize that networking is about building relationships.

Unfortunately 90 percent of the people you will come into contact with tend to manage their lives, both professionally and personally, with an attitude of “What’s in it for me?” This is a selfish, and worse, nearsighted approach to your career.

Top networkers have reversed this thinking by adjusting their mindset to first asking, “What can I do for you?” When you do something for someone else (solved a problem, provided a new contact, made a connection), it just feels great! That becomes your primary motivation the personal touch, connecting one human being to the other.

Cheri S. Hill, president and chief executive officer of Sage International, Inc. in Reno, facilitates “Super Networking” sessions through the Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Contact her at cheri@sageintl.com.