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Power networking: the only way to become a skilled networker is through effort and practice.

Skilled networkers aren't born that way. No matter how poised, confident or proficient they may seem, the best networkers got that way by following a basic tenet: practice makes perfect

Novices must first learn how to network. And to become experienced pros, they must consistently perfect their skills. Even seasoned professionals must continually hone their approach. A networker's focus is on making connections and cementing relationships. The following tips can help you become a power networker.

Lose the "what's in it for me?" attitude. "Many people think networking is about getting, when it's actually about giving," says Anne Baber, co-author of Great Connections: Small Talk and Networking for Businesspeople (Impact Publications, Manassas Park, Va., 1992; $11.95). Baber asserts that a big part of networking involves reciprocal sharing of information and resources. So if you're stingy about providing insight and sharing resources, you'll soon find yourself cut out of the loop.

Observe networking etiquette. Always be considerate of other people's time, company culture and work status (don't assume that everyone is employed). If you're making cold calls, a minor courtesy such as revealing how you acquired people's names can be a simple icebreaker that may make them more receptive to your calls.

Don't be a snob. By snubbing or overlooking people you might consider "beneath your station," you're narrowing your network and limiting your resources. "Get to know people above and below your status at work," advises Dr. Therman E. Evans, president and CEO of Whole Life Associates, a wellness, diversi and stress management firm in Philadelphia. "That person you overlook might have the solution you've been seeking or a service you've been needing."

Return phone calls. It says a lot about you or your organization when you are lax in returning phone calls. Everyone is busy, but that's no excuse for not acknowledging a call or message. If you or your business relies on an answering machine or service to relay messages, then a return call will be expected.

Get out there. Forget who you know - it's who knows you that matters. And the only way you'll become a known entity is by getting out to meet the right people and making contacts. "Make networking a part of your personal and professional life," Evans advises. This way, the effort will become less of a chore and more of a natural progression of your professional growth.

Keep apositive attitude. Building a well-connected networking base takes time and effort. Rarely will attending one function or joining one group rocket you to the top of your career. So don't get discouraged if you don't hit a home run your first time up at bat. Serious business contacts must be cultivated. And the more focused and committed you are from the start will determine how lucrative your payoff will be in the end.



* The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is scheduled to hold its annual conference July 10-15 at the Indianapolis Convention Center. Call 410-358-8900.

* The National Insurance Association is slated to convene its 73rd annual convention July 15-18 at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans. Call 312-924-3308

* The National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice is scheduled to host its 20th annual conference July 18-22 at the Adams Mark Hotel in Houston. Call 301-681-2365.

* The National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women's Clubs is slated to hold its annual convention July 18-25 at the Oakland Airport Hilton. Call 202-483-4206.

* The National Association of Black Journalism will host its 18th annual conference July 31-25 at the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston. Call 703-648-1270.

* The National Bar Association will hold its annual convention July 25-31 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Call 202-842-3900.

* Black Expo USA will be held July 31-Aug. 1 at the Oakland Convention Center. Call 212-234-3400.

* For more information on other conventions, check the Janaury 1993 issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE, which features the 1993 BE/Kraft General Foods Calendar of Events. To let BE know of upcoming events in your area, address all correspondence to Networking News, BLACK ENTERPRISE, 130 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011. Information cannot be returned.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:advice on establishing business relationships
Author:Baskerville, Dawn M.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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