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Networking is simply building relationships that are mutually beneficial.  The benefits of a strong professional network are unlimited.  It can lead to increased sales, enhanced community profile, create new opportunities and provide personal fulfillment.  Through networking a business is able to create connections, build relationships and also follow up with peers. Making contacts is important to generating new business.  Networking is a way to generate referrals and, referrals are important to increase sales.  Good business networking skills can be learned. 

Suggested options for successful networking:

1.  Becoming a member of an existing networking group(s)
2.  Volunteer for local events
3.  Sharing experiences with others
4.  Looking to create connections and build confidence
Networking can be achieved offline, as well as online.  Common techniques of online business networking are mailing lists and discussion forums:

Mailing  List:

A form of discussion group in which participation is by simple e-mail. Contributions are made to a particular e-mail address that then acts as a post box for distribution to a predefined list of addresses  - See page 21

Discussion forum:

The discussion forum is a general term for any online "bulletin board" where you can leave and expect to see responses to messages you have left.    Discussion forum is web based.  Therefore, choose a web site, register by creating a profile for yourself and, join the forum by browsing the topics.  The discussions are “threaded” - the original post and the replies are linked. Many forums are also searchable.  Before entering into discussion, check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to find out about suitable behavior and tips for interacting with the group. 

Suggested networking links:

Industry Trade Associations (a good resource is “Associations Canada”)
BNI Canada
Toronto Board of Trade (including Chambers of Commerce)

Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Businesslike behaviour is important in networking and in interacting with others.

Globalization creates new markets.  Along with products and finances, business people move across national borders.  Types of international business such as international trade (import/export) and foreign investment, franchising, licensing, management contracts (also considered types of international business) require the use of code appropriate to modern business manners.

More and more, business people need to pay attention to others business culture.  Solid business relationships are greatly achieved through excellent customer service, as well as, respecting some business etiquette.
In Canadian business culture it is important to use a positive body language (smile, eye contact, and handshake).  Also when meeting, introduce yourself, if you wear a name tag adjust it on the right side, bring business cards with you and, ask for cards (read the card before putting it away).

When making introductions, remember rank and status is more important than gender and age.

When calling someone, prepare your question in advance.  If someone answers your call, introduce yourself and ask if they are able to talk to you. When leaving a voice message speak slowly and clearly, stating your name, phone number and reason of your call. Return calls within 24 hours.  Email as a formal communication tool should be written in a short and clear manner therefore, watching the spelling, grammar is essential.

Online resources

The International Business Etiquette Internet Sourcebook
International Business Etiquette and Manners
World Business Culture
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