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How to Get the Most out of Networking

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It goes by many names: schmoozing, pressing the flesh, rubbing elbows, meet and greets. But no matter what you call it, the end result is the same: You want to make new contacts at other businesses with the hope that someday you'll be in a situation that will be mutually beneficial to both parties.

Whether it's maneuvering for a new job or hoping to entice someone to come aboard at your company, or whatever, it's a great tool to have in your utility belt if you want to flourish, not just survive, as an entrepreneur.

So how the heck do you get the most from it? SmallBizChicago.com has a big post from Vickie Milazzo on this very subject. There are a lot of nuances to this topic that she explores, but what jumped out to me personally were these points -- elaborations are my own:

Know when to move on

Don't spend all your time hustling on one very attractive candidate. Make yourself known to them, and if they're too sluggish to respond or are too busy, it isn't worth expending all that energy when you could be hobnobbing with contacts who are much more responsive.

Manage the follow up

Just because you meet someone once doesn't mean they're going to remember. It's a fine art, but, as Milazzo says, "create reasons to stay in touch and keep the relationship growing." Send links to articles that might relevant to them. Find reasons to stay in their mind, but only when it makes sense.

Don't wait until you need something to follow up

Demonstrate how you can be of use to someone else. It's kinda shady to reach out only when you need a favor.

Anyway, you can read the full post at SmallBizChicago.com. Get networkin'!

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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