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Go Public with Your Agenda

The cardinal rule about anyone's networking Agenda is, "If there's no mystery, there's no manipulation." Managing conversations is quite different from manipulating other people. Managing is okay; manipulating is not. Effective networking is based on telling people what you want and making sure that you take every opportunity to contribute to the success of others by giving them anything you can.

Were you brought up to believe that coming right out and saying what you want is pushy, self-centered, and overbearing? Were you taught that you should not see people as opportunities? Many people were. As a kid, you might sometimes have had to toss out subtle clues or be indirect in order to get what you wanted. As an adult, however, you can avoid the feeling that you are using people. Tell them, straight out, what's on your Agenda. Your honesty about your purposes will increase your sense of competence and professionalism. With these new ground rules for networking, the people you meet become opportunities for you, and you become an opportunity for them. Here's a surefire test to determine if your Agenda is manipulative. Ask yourself, "How would I feel if my Agenda were the headline on the front page of tomorrow morning's newspaper: Joe Jackson Hunts Job in Health Care? What if everybody knew what I wanted? What if they could see right through the subtle clues to what I actually have in mind? Would they feel good about me and my purpose? Would I?" If the answer is yes, your Agenda item is a good one to talk about.


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