To maximize your ability to network effectively, it definitely helps to develop a plan to help you navigate through the process of meeting new contacts. Here are a few of the basic items that should always be on your list:

  1. Follow up in a timely manner. – If you’ve received an introduction, don’t wait to make contact. Be proactive and reach out right away. It shows that you’re motivated, interested and organized.
  2. Keep the facilitator in the loop (if they want). – If someone has been generous enough to provide you with an introduction or lead, start by saying thank you. Then, make sure to ask if they want to be kept up to date on how the new relationship progresses. Almost always they will, and will appreciate your effort.
  3. Be reciprocal. – Networking isn’t a one-sided activity. For it to work, reciprocity is essential. If you’ve received an introduction, think of ways that you can return the favor or offer some other favor that delivers value.
  4. Don’t draw conclusions. – Received an introduction to someone who you think isn’t relevant to your specific needs? Don’t jump to conclusions. By keeping an open mind, you won’t limit your opportunities. There’s a reason why someone facilitated the introduction. Don’t be short-sighted, and find out the reason why.
  5. Be strategic. – You simply can’t attend every networking event nor participate in every networking group. Instead, determine who you want to meet, research where these individuals might be, and then limit your networking time to attending these functions.

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