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Networking 101: Be Selective, Strategic, And Systematic

Networking is a key component to creating strong business connections and building client loyalty — especially for Notary Signing Agents, small business owners and entrepreneurs. But not just any networking will do, says Vickie Milazzo, author of the New York Times bestseller Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. According to Milazzo, founder and CEO of her own multi-million dollar company, networking isn’t just about meeting people, it’s about meeting the “right” people and being smart and selective about the networking process.

Be Selective: Successful networking goes beyond simply socializing. Research what it is you’re after —a job position, a contact, or specific information — pinpoint how to find it, and work to create appropriate connection. Create a personalized network of clients, colleagues, consultants, vendors and acquaintances with whom you share values and work ethic, and who you can count on for information and referrals. Milazzo warns against casting too wide a net when networking — it can be far more effective to cultivate one or two strong, meaningful relationships at a time.

Challenge Your Comfort Zone: Milazzo recommends getting out of a professional rut by networking with people a step or two ahead of yourself on the professional ladder. Not only do they function as motivators and role models, they can often have more influence on your future job opportunities than those who share your same current position.

Get Organized: Milazzo recommends creating a system to help manage information you receive from the contacts you make during networking events. For example, following the NNA annual Conference, take time to record details about the colleagues you met and the discussions you shared. “When you meet someone knew, take note (electronically) of what the person looked like, what you discussed, and one or two things you found unique about that person,” suggests Milazzo. “That way the next time you speak with him or if you want to reach out after the event, you can mention something that will personally interest him, allowing you to make a stronger, more lasting connection.”

Provide Good Follow Up: The contacts you made at the NNA Conference or colleagues with whom you shared information at a recent seminar can slip away if you don’t cultivate the relationships. Send a link to a relevant article addressing an issue in your industry, offer advice and ideas, or simply thank others for their time and insights. Don’t wait until you need something before reaching out, or you may risk appearing self-serving.

Don’t Limit Yourself To Social Media: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are invaluable when it comes to info-sharing and connecting, but don’t let them entirely replace the value of old fashioned letters, thank you cards, and phone calls, advises Milazzo.

Like any strong and lasting relationship, successful networking is a two-way street and Milazzo recommends you must give as much as you get. “Success isn’t a monopoly,” says Milazzo. “The more creative, intelligent, and effective people there are, the more successful your entire industry will be.”

Read Milazzo’s tips in their entirety in her article, “Make Your Connections Count: 10 Things You Need To Know (Now) About Successful Networking.”

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