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'People are our strongest resource ... and link;' understand 'who you are'

In this unprecedented time of career and business change it’s important to learn and apply proven techniques. As a career strategist I have researched and developed networking concepts to assist with relationship building for profitability and results. Networking is the consistent, organized system of connecting with new and formerly known individuals where you both contribute to and support one another in accomplishing your goals.

Networking is both a creative and scientific skill that when done correctly generates incredible success. Understanding trends and applying concepts to maintain a network of colleagues and professional associates is important since most connections happen when you least expect it. Nearly 70 percent of all jobs and high-profile opportunities are generated by personal introduction, word of mouth and common alliances.

As you research and contemplate your next career and business opportunity it is important to cultivate and develop a reputation that compels people to know you and network with you. Waiting until you need someone creates an imbalanced situation, both for you and the other person. Take time now to identify circles of influence and interrelated alliances in which you can provide value. Networking takes place in a shared context of serving and being served.

For instance ask yourself what can you offer of value to your network? Do you have a follow-up system that amazes you? Do you have an automatic system for identifying and attending networking events?

In preparing to expand and better contribute to your network I recommend two very specific but overlooked tools in this process. The first of which is how you introduce yourself. Is what you are saying clearly articulated and informative of what you can do for them? Have you reviewed your introduction and shortened it to the length of a TV commercial or the time it takes to walk in a hotel lobby?

I encourage you to listen from the perspective of "Could someone duplicate my introduction to another person and convey my meaning?" The second very powerful and most under-used tool in your networking kit is that of personalized thank you cards. The art of writing a hand written note will generate impact, getting you remembered.

A card conveys that you made time, found the connection meaningful and allows you to stand out from others. The number of people who use personalized stationery and know what to write is statistically very low. Take time now to integrate consistently this time-honored tradition of putting pen to paper, and watch as your results and income increase.

It is important to consolidate your actions and efforts and focus on your No. 1 goal and message for meeting people. You need to be specific in what you are looking for and what you are offering to better utilize your time. The best job openings are ones that are discovered from people who know you, are invested in you and are willing to make introductions on your behalf.  Begin now to find ways for people to speak powerfully about what you have done and your personal philosophy.

By doing these actions, your results will amaze and inspire you and build your confidence.

Over the years I have met many successful people and the one concept that stands out in a leader is that of a life long networker and relationship builder. People are our strongest resource and the most successful link to careers.

Being an effective networker requires discipline in understanding who you are, who you need to meet, how to follow up and useful ways to stay in touch.

Your goal is to be known, seen and referred to. Networking is about building relationships based on shared goals and helping one another to be a success.

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Cynthia H. Stringer is a career coach and networking expert with over 15 years of experience in corporate, nonprofit and private practice. She works with clients locally and nationally developing customized step-by-step career networking strategies and plans that brings proven results. She serves as a facilitator for Sonoma County Job Link, as the career blogger for Justmeans.com and lead master coach for Success By Design. Her Web site www.successbydesign.net has over 1,000 pages of various resources, free reports and a monthly electronic newsletter.