In Business on September 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Networking should be part of your business creed. If it’s not, then you’re not paying proper attention and making use of every opportunity in front of you. There are networking opportunities that can turn into business relationships happening all the time. You just have to recognise and make use of them.

That means a lot of focus and concentration, all day, every day. It might seem like a great deal of effort, but after a little while it becomes second nature.

What’s a Networking Opportunity?

It would be easy to say “everything,” but it would also be an exaggeration. You won’t find one when you’re paying for groceries at the supermarket, for instance. Or will you? Perhaps the line is long and you strike up a conversation with the person behind you. He’s in business, in a field associated with yours.

Now that’s an ideal opportunity. You already have a bond – the grind of being in a queue – and you can exchange cards (always carry your business cards, even at weekends) and contact each other later. The unlikeliest event has just turned into a networking opportunity.

Something like that won’t happen often, but it does happen, and you need to be alert to take advantage of it. You might not be at work, but that doesn’t mean you can switch off. You need to remain ready.

There truly are networking opportunities everywhere. Start talking in the pub and you might find one, or if you stop at motorway services.

Being Aware

A lot of it is in your mindset. If you begin looking for networking opportunities in every facet of your life, you’re going to find them on a regular basis. You simply have to keep reminding yourself that they’re there, all around you.

Train yourself to it. You spend five days a week working. All those phone calls can be networking contacts, and the same with the e-mails you reply to or send. Think how you can leverage them into real networking contacts. What can you offer them that’s useful? Think in the long term. It’s not about one call or mail, but about building a relationship with someone. Networking, ideally, should be mutually beneficial. That rarely happens overnight, and in business, just like everywhere else, relationships take time to grow, so nurture the relationship.

Applying The Lesson

Once you begin looking at things with your new attitude, you’ll start seeing plenty of networking opportunities. It takes work and energy to pursue them all, but work can be a demanding mistress if you’re doing it properly, it demands a lot of dedication, and if you’re going to be truly successful, you have to give it that.

A lot of networking isn’t in making the contacts, but following them up and developing them. That’s what separates those with an interest from those who are really determined. Make the time to follow up on each contact (use the back of their business card to make a few notes about them as a memory aid). It doesn’t need to be a major communication, just a quick e-mail or phone call to start the ball rolling. Things will grow from there.


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Sep 24th 2010, 7:32 by K.C. | TOKYO

IN THE end, it came down to economic ties versus national pride. Business concerns prevailed—and so did China, in a sense. A bitter feud with Japan had been escalating since September 7th, when a Chinese fishing boat ran into a Japanese patrol in waters which both countries claim as sovereign territory. Today Japan released the boat’s Chinese skipper, who had been accused of bashing into the two Japanese vessels deliberately. With the release of the captain, Zhan Qixiong, the diplomatic world breathes a sigh of relief. But how to score this match? Japan comes off looking weak, as it succumbs to an avalanche of pressure. But the ferocity of the Chinese response has harmed China ultimately, by undermining confidence in China as a responsible stakeholder in the region.

Japan’s prosecutors chose not to indict Mr Zhan on the grounds that his act was not premeditated, according to Kyodo, the Japanese news agency. But the real reason was the vehemence of China’s reaction. Since the fishing crew and its captain were arrested, China has continually ratcheted up the pressure to have them returned. It cut diplomatic communications and even arrested four Japanese nationals, allegedly for filming in a restricted military area. China’s response seemed to take an especially nefarious turn when it apparently suspended its export of rare-earth minerals, which are vital to making electronics components used in everything from handheld gadgets to cars. On September 23rd China emphatically denied that it is blocking exports. And this may be true: there probably isn’t a formal directive. But in a country where informal rules abound, exporters know that it can pay to withhold shipments—in solidarity with a government that is angry at its neighbour.

At its heart, the squabble was not only about the Senkaku islands, called the Diaoyu by the Chinese, where the boat collision took place earlier this month. Instead, it was likely a message to other countries with which China has territorial disputes, particularly in the South China Sea. This week China showed that it is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to exert its maritime claims. Lately it has taken to calling the South China Sea, which it disputes with five of its South-East Asian neighbours, a “core national interest”.

Moreover, it forced the new Japanese government and Naoto Kan, its prime minister, to make a hard choice: between a handful of uninhabited rocks, far from Japan’s main islands, and the future of its economy. Japan’s decision not to go to the wall for its territorial claims looks expedient, but it may come to haunt it in the long term.

This has also been a test of China, though in a way the country seems not to understand. Its actions have called into question its maturity as a responsible international actor and undermined its pretensions to a “peaceful rise”. Other states observe a host of traditions to help see them work through border disputes and express their displeasure with one another. The melodrama of China’s reaction, entirely disproportionate to the matter at hand, made it impossible for the two sides to find a mutually acceptable outcome. The acute crisis may be over but this resolution is sure to usher in an extended period of chill between the countries.

Which is a terrible outcome. Until recently, both countries had seen their economies flourishing as a result of strengthening trade ties. Since 2009 China has been Japan’s number-one trading partner. And the new Democratic Party of Japan government is the most pro-China administration in recent times. All this goodwill is lost.



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