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It is extremely important to cultivate and maintain contacts in the professional environment, but as in every relationship, networking is all about give and take. In order to develop contacts you must become a ‘most-desired resource’ – a person who willingly shares his/her expertise with others and is resourceful him/her self.

Here is how you can become a ‘most-desired resource’:

1. Be honest. Effective relationships are based on honesty. Always tell the truth as you know it and avoid sharing selective information. If there is something you don’t know or cannot do, admit it.

2. Develop networking opportunities. Explore new networking opportunities; attend work related social functions, trade shows and association meetings, etc. Don’t be shy to make contacts and expand your network by chatting, sharing contact info and staying in touch.

3. Give more than you get. Networking is not a one-way street; people develop relationships only if they see some personal or professional benefit. Most people do not take well to selfishness, so remember the golden rule of networking: “Always give more to your network than you receive.” Keep a detailed list of all the contacts you make and what services they provide. Then, when you need to return a favour, you will have more than enough information to offer.

4. Help people develop. When someone experiences difficulty in executing a task, offer your expertise (or use your contacts) to help. Helping someone troubleshoot builds goodwill and ingratiates them to you. At some point in the future the same person will come to your help.

5. Add a personal touch. People always appreciate small gestures and acts of kindness. A thank you note, a birthday greeting, a get well SMS or a cup of coffee on a rough day all add a personal touch and go a long way. Make an effort for those in your network; attend weddings, parties and especially funerals.

– S Ali Anis, SPHR

The writer is Lead Consultant and Trainer at Change180. info@thechange180.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 9, 2012.