Networking in Every Day Life

hetworkingRecently, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission launched an official cab-share program to take commuters from their uptown residences to midtown offices. Riders meet at specified group pick-up points and for a $3-4 flat rate, a fraction of what they'd pay as a single rider, they can avoid jockeying for a hard-to-find morning ride in the middle of Columbus Avenue. The program has turned out to be a great networking tool; already both friendships and business relationships have been struck.

This development in more civilized urban commuting reminds us that you never know when you might be sitting next to someone in a cab, on an airplane, or at Starbucks who can turn out to be instrumental in your career. Will you know how to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes?

Here's are some key tools for impromptu public networking:

1. Approachability.

A friendly smile, a polite greeting and relaxed body language all show that you're open to interacting.

2. Awareness.

Watch for cues that signal whether a person is open to a casual conversation. If she pulls out an iPod or seems way too engrossed in a newspaper or book, she's giving you the signal that she's not interested in conversing. Don't take it personally; perhaps they're preoccupied or just need a quiet moment before they start their day. Respect their space and don't try to force things.

3. A curious mind.

If and when the conversation does get beyond the initial pleasantries, it's easiest to draw people out by asking questions and getting them to talk about themselves. But be careful that you don't come across like an FBI interrogator. Absorb what they're saying and let them finish their thoughts before you ask the next question.

4. Elevator pitch.

You want to be responsive to their questions as well. In particular, be ready for that basic question that can also be the most tricky: "What do you do?" If you're unemployed, focus on the future without going into a long explanation of your past. Say something like, "I have a background as a systems analyst and am looking for my next position at a technology firm."

5. Business cards.

If you had a pleasant conversation with someone, exchange business cards as an invitation to keep the door open for future contact.

Next: Dos and Don'ts of Handling Business Cards >>

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Don Werner

I once was told by a fellow at a Chamber of Commerce meeting that you shouldn't go out for a loaf of bread or milk without your business card. Also I started a new policy with my business that at the end of every month I send out thank you cards to all my new customers.People appreciate old fashioned service and common courtesy.

March 17 2010 at 3:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who wrote this article? It's nothing new all that is being said is to use common sense. Of course if someone is reading the paper or has an ipod on, they clearly don't want to engage in conversation. Next time AOL wants to use a filler piece they should pick something that will actually help the millions that are unemployed.

March 14 2010 at 7:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Julio's comment

Sure, it is common sense--and people aren't doing it! They sit by a screen all day and job hunt. I have never gotten a decent job by relying on anything but personal contact. Tech devices are robbing people of the art of conversation. They are hypnotic, and lull people into thinking that's all they need to do to get a job--NOT.

In my Toastmasters club we have had several new members who lost their jobs after years of being in the same job. They had few networking skills because they weren't doing it while employed. That's the key--a network that isn't taken care of when you work needs to be completely rebuilt when you are unemployed!

March 14 2010 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i do agree on what you said, however, you must understand that not too many people today are use common sense. people are stupid!

March 14 2010 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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