What if effective networking could help you uncover new opportunities, assist in your family’s growth and save you time? Would you look at it differently?

Networking is really just a fancy term for making friends and putting yourself in places where you can meet like-minded people.

How can this help you?

Well, by surrounding yourself with like-minded people and nurturing those connections you create a forum for exchange of ideas, support when you need it and a consistent flow of information and opportunities – very useful where your children and/or your working life are concerned.

If your concern is finding time to network for business then ignoring your social and parental networks can be a fatal mistake. Many referrals come from very obscure sources!

So dig out that address book and try these networking tips for your own “personal network audit”

Organise your contacts

Maybe use different colours in your address book for your different networks – for example your inner circle (those who you would comfortably have over to your house for dinner) and extended network (those you know but not so well such as school, activity or business contacts).

"Collect" people who you like and who inspire you

Enjoy your network. If a person is hard work, move on discreetly. Networking should never feel contrived or forced.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business networking section.

Use a family diary

Paper, wall calendar, PC – whatever works for you and your family. Keep it current, visible and neat.

Join one or two networks

Schedule time to go as regularly as you can – join only those you can manage and that interest you.

Respect your children’s friendship networks

These networks are important to your children and important to you to hear valuable information about them. Form a small but trusted school parents network and help each other with pick ups and drop offs, etc.

Communicate with your network in a time-efficient way

Plan a regular catch up time with various groups. Invite contacts to networking functions. Send a quick email. Make a quick phone call while cooking dinner. Post articles of interest. Allow yourself an adult get together once in a while!

Listen completely to the person you are speaking to

...even if you have a million other things in your head at the time. Not only will you remember the conversation and give the other person the respect they deserve, you won’t miss an opportunity.

In the networking world, quality is certainly better than quantity. Although your busy life is already stretched to the limit, following these networking tips and doing an honest audit of who you know and connect with can be invaluable. Organise your networks, nurture those contacts and help each other. You never know where the next referral, job or family opportunity will come from. What have you got to lose?

“ Enjoy your network. If a person is hard work, move on discreetly. ”
 
Kim McGuinness

Kim McGuinness is founder of Network Central and networkingmentor.com.au She is also co-author of Network or Perish. Network Central is a leadership network for managers while networkingmentor.com.au provides online and face to face mentoring to grow exceptional networks.

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