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Expanding your network expands your business

by Harvey Mackay
| November 14, 2010 8:00 PM

If I had to name the single characteristic shared by all the truly successful people I've met over a lifetime, I'd say it is the ability to create and nurture a network of contacts.

The alphabet is a great place to start - organize your contacts from A to Z.

A is for antennae, which should be up every waking moment. Never pass up an opportunity to meet new people.

B is for birthdays. You wouldn't believe how much business our sales reps write up when they call on their customers' birthdays.

C is for contact-management system. Have your data organized so that you can cross-reference entries and find the information you need quickly.

D is for dig your well before you're thirsty.

E is for exchange and expand. When two people exchange dollar bills, each still has only a dollar. But when two people exchange networks, they each have access to both.

F is for Facebook and all other social media. These sites open unlimited possibilities for networking.

G is for gatekeeper. Don't waste the time of a trusted assistant trained to block or grant your access, and acknowledge their significant role in reaching the boss.

H is for hearing. Make note of news you hear affecting someone in your network so you can reference it at the appropriate time.

I is for information. Don't talk about business all the time.

J is for job security, which you will always have if you develop a network.

K is for keeping in touch. Stay plugged in and keep the wires humming.

L is for lessons. The first real networking school I signed up for after I graduated from college was Toastmasters. Dale Carnegie schools achieve similar goals.

M is for mentors. In the best of all possible worlds, your role models can become your mentors.

N is for a network of contacts. A network can enrich your life.

O is for outgoing. Be the first to introduce yourself, lend a hand or send congratulations.

P is for people. You have to love people to be a good networker.

Q is for quality. A large network is worthless unless the people in it can be counted on to answer in an emergency at 2 a.m.

R is for Reciprocity. You give; you get. You no give; you no get. If you only do business with people you know and like, you won't be in business very long.

S is for six degrees of separation. Someone you know knows someone who knows someone you want to know.

T is for telephone. Landline, cell, Internet - this is a critical tool for staying in touch with your network.

U is for urgency. Don't be slow to answer the call, even if you never expect to have your effort repaid.

V is for visibility. Don't confuse visibility with credibility. You have to give in order to get.

W is not only for whom you know, but also for who knows you.

X is for the extra mile. Your network contacts will go the extra mile for you; do the same for them.

Y is for yearly check-in. Find a way, even if it's just a holiday card, to stay in touch.

Z is for ZIP code - do you have plenty in your network?

Mackay's Moral : You don't have to know everything as long as you know the people who do.

Harvey Mackay is the author of The New York Times' No. 1 bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website, www.harveymackay.com, by e-mailing harvey@mackay.com or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co, 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

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