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How To Network

With a little practice, you can be a pro.

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Are you a networking nerd? Many consider networking so simple, anyone can do it. But don't listen to them. You have to learn how to network the right way. First, develop a plan. Networking is more than just saying hello. It's the smart way to build long-lasting business relationships. Decide who your best prospects are and where you're likely to find them. Then go where they are: committees, conferences, meetings or associations.

Learn to make small talk. Ask open-ended questions, and don't forget to listen. Don't think of networking as just a sales opportunity. Instead, consider it a mission-a chance to learn something. The sales will come later.

Always follow up. If you don't, you've wasted your time, energy and money. Most important, be prepared. Networking opportunities can-and do-crop up unexpectedly.