Business can be difficult and tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.  

By establishing and maintaining relationships with people, you can encounter business opportunities and still other lucrative connections. Here are three steps for building your network in stages:

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1. Build ties with your personal circle and then beyond.

You need to be trusted before people will commit to you, your company or product. Initially, your personal connections will vouch for you. This will begin to lend credibility to your name and your brand or product.

To build your network, start small. Share a business card, even if it just has your personal information. More important than giving out a business card, though is collecting them. This puts you in the driver’s seat to start the process of making lasting connections.

Reach out as well to your high school, college and graduate school alumni networks. Attend conferences and seminars and meet the people there. Volunteering is another way to begin expanding your network.

Then when you keep in touch with these new and old members of your network, you will find yourself becoming a magnet for others wishing to be part of your circle.

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2. Exchange information or ask advice.

By sharing or requesting information, you will remain fresh on other people's minds in a natural and organic way. You'll become a driving force in referrals, which influences the advancement of others.

Even if you do not directly help all your connections, this activitiy will lead you to become a trusted resource of information and will keep members of your network returning to you. Collecting friends or connections on social networks is a great first step. But interacting with people and staying active with your network is what separates a social media participant from a truly powerful networking professional.

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3. Following up is crucial to becoming a great connector.

Did you send someone a referral? Then remember to ask how it went. That is followup! These interactions show that you are invested in this person's success and will further the bond that you have started.

Be proactive in communicating. We live in a world where information and personal thoughts are easily found, making us think we are connected. But the person who truly reaches out and sends a personal message is the person who is truly’ connected.

People will do business with those individuals who are visible. It may sound like a cliché but networking is a 24/7 job 365 days a year -- not something accomplished overnight.

Now you are on your way to being a well-oiled networking machine. 

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