The strongest, most valuable networking method is one-on-one because it’s based on personal communication and relationships between you and others who share an interest in each other and their business. These relationships can easily be developed by actively participating in professional activities, especially through professional associations.
Get active in the local and state chapters, and attend meetings regularly. Take on leadership roles and volunteering for committees and other activities not only is good for the organization, but it will also bring you into more regular contact with peers.
Getting to know others and spending time with them is the most valuable networking you can develop. In an age when planning projects, organization, and efforts are so team-based, you can never have enough friends. You need to work at developing contacts and relationships.
To establish a strong, thriving network, you must nurture it. You must take the initiative to reach out and maintain regular contact. Don’t just make professional acquaintances. Make friends. Get interested in others; actively engage them and learn what they do, how they do it, what their plans are, and what they are interested in or what drives them.
If you learn they are looking for something – new job, assistance on a project, or for a resource of some kind – offer them your time, assistance or referral. Get involved with their life. Get to know your connections well enough to be able to share items that would be of interest to them. Squandering your network and resources are not what establishing those connections are about. Using your network to help others will pay dividends tenfold for you in the future.
And, do what you say you will do. Keep your word and your commitments. Set an example of how you want others to see you and to treat you. Treat everyone with personal attention, dignity and respect. Be grateful for assistance and referrals are given to you, making sure you personally thank the individual who helped you.