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How to create the best network around you

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next few months, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

78 Networking

A good negotiator knows it is essential to create a network of professional associates who exchange mutual favours and professional advice, provide introductions and references, and so forth. Such a network is established one individual at a time, over time, through personal contact: Face-to-face or in phone conversations, e-mails, meetings, lunches, negotiations, professional conferences.

Individuals in your network may or may not share your particular interests, beliefs, needs, and goals; you may not even have a natural affinity or rapport. But each relationship must have value and relevance in your professional life. Each individual must bring something to the table thereby improving the position of the other. Ideally you both possess essential skills, expertise, contacts, and knowledge that you can draw on from one another when the need arises. No one wants to network with someone who is all take and no give.

A strong network is made up of multiple such productive associations from which more personal bonds of rapport may develop. Any individual in one’s network may, over time, move from the associate’s column to the ally’s column, and then to the personal acquaintance’s column, and even to the friend’s column in your network ledger. One or two may even end up in your inner sanctum of trusted friends.

The basis of each relationship in most networks is a combination of professional utility and bottom-line trust. The moment that trust is broken or abused – for example when people are disrespected, lied to, cheated, or taken advantage of – the connection is damaged and possibly destroyed. You may suddenly have a disgruntled former ally out there using shared information or professional secrets against you. Anyone who has gone through a personal or business relationship breakup, or has fired a long-term employee, knows how dangerous trusted information in the wrong hands can be. Your people skills and professional etiquette – these include integrity, reliability, respect, politeness, and good will – foster an essential bond of trust with each member of your network. Your ability to manage your network relationships using these skills is a decisive factor in your career success.

Behavioural tips for building a professional network

  • Be friendly, genuine, caring, polite, present, attentive, respectful, supportive, and sincere.
  • Listen intently and demonstrate genuine understanding and empathy.
  • Keep a positive can-do attitude.
  • Be generous, do something for the other party, and act in their best interests.
  • Be trustworthy, act with integrity, and exhibit a high ethical standard of behaviour.
  • Hear their names, repeat their names, and use (but don’t over-use) them when you converse.

  • Make them feel good about themselves by your attentive listening and positive regard, and through positive comments about their good qualities.
  • Develop rapport through friendly, mirroring body language.

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