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BellaOnline's Work & Family Editor

Better Networking Skills

Network, network, network. Good networking skills are more important than ever. Jobs are scarce, money is tight and people are trying to find income outside of the traditional 9 to 5 arena. The Internet makes it easy to reach out and touch someone. However, do you combine online social networking with person-to-person networking? How current are your networking skills?

Perhaps the more important question is, when will you have time to do this networking? You have a family to take care of and a house to manage, but you do want home business success too. Moms or dads who have a problem finding time to get out of the house to go to a networking event are often disappointed when the event turns into nothing more than a couple of hours of meet and greet, rather than a meeting of like-minded entrepreneurs. What can you do? You can make networking events work for you by fine-tuning your networking skills.

My advice is to reach beyond your networking comfort zone when looking for people to network with. Take a close look at your resume and really see what is there. Is "Webmaster" is listed on your resume and business card? Do you only think in terms of building a four or five page web site? Try to think outside of the "Webmaster" box and move beyond that. People like knowing something about individuals, so be sure to give potential clients/customer a little information about the person behind the business. Take a look at author sites, they not only talk about their books, they often have a page about themselves and families in a general way. No need to list the names of your children, "two boys, two girls and clever cat named Fluffy" will do.

Networking 101

Handy items for your purse or pocket:

Make sure you have a proper business cards. You card should be:

Things to do the following week:

You can do your follow-ups during your down time or get up a half hour before everyone else does to send "It was a pleasure to meet you" e-mail. It is important to carve out some time for yourself and your business if you want it to grow and flourish.

Twitter and Facebook are great ways to keep in touch and acknowledge people. However Tweeting "It was nice to meeting you" should not be your first choice. Send a personal e-mail the same day of the meeting. It does not hurt to send a short note by snail mail, with a sample of your product if small and appropriate. A presence on Twitter and Facebook are almost necessary. Be sure not to forget older social networks such as LinkedIn. Business networks are perfect for sharing information about your products, plus you can gain business information that you may otherwise miss.

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