If you want to groan every time you hear the word “networking,” no one would blame you. But networking doesn’t have to be so bad. The goal is to meet new people and expand your professional network, and there’s no reason those activities have to be confined to conferences and industry happy hours.

All it takes is a little imagination, and networking might even be kind of fun. You could network at any event where suitably like-minded people are present and willing to engage.

Networking is about seeing the opportunity to talk and to ask and to give help to others. These events are simply gatherings of people drawn together with a common purpose; it might be something specifically for networking, or it might be an annual meeting or show at which many of your target market or your suppliers attend.

Networking meetings allow you to meet new people face-to-face, often briefly. They’re great for finding and building a list of people who you wish to develop stronger relationships with over time.  It’s not unusual for networking to continue in a one-to-one environment with the person you’ve met after a networking meeting.  This is a great opportunity to really understand their needs, their business and what they’re seeking to achieve.  If your aim in networking is to help develop your own business and you focus only on that, the system simply doesn’t work.

In today’s technologically advanced world, conversations no longer simply just happen between people at events or face-to-face.  More frequently, the conversation is taking place online through the medium of social networks.  To be effective at networking, we need to be visible in those networks so that people who are interested in what we do can find us.

Social networking is still relatively new and many people are beginning to understand the power of social networking and find appropriate ways to use it. Networking is changing with the introduction of new technologies and new means of keeping conversation going and deepening relationships over a variety of media.  Networking, delivering business person to person, in an open, random, and supportive way is here to stay so, don’t be afraid of networking, it can be fun, make you lots of new friends and ultimately win you new business.

Debbie Lewis is a Customer Support Executive at Happy Creative, a full service marketing and creative agency based in Blackpool, Lancashire. To learn more or contact us please go to www.happy-creative.co.uk