This is Part 4 of a 6 part series. Here is a link to Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 5, and Part 6.

IV. Networking and Marketing - 1 of 2

Answer this question: What is the one thing no business can do without?

Answer: Customers.

In the spirit of perpetuating your business, this section deals with finding and retaining customers.

1. Network with your peers

Networking is a fortunate side effect of interacting with your peers, clients and colleagues. You should work to cultivate a large and diverse network. When a peer is called for two jobs on one day, he or she can refer you to one of them. Return the favor. And through the grapevine you may learn who is great to work for and who is difficult to work for.

2. Network within your industry.

Go to an ASMP meeting. I’m focused on the still photography world, but I know there are equivalents for other professions.

3. Have a 30-second elevator speech in your brain

When you meet people – possibly in an actual elevator, but more likely in a networking situation – you will need to explain who you are and what you do in 30 seconds or less. Prepare a short speech for any situation. An example: “Hi, I’m Jane Doe. I’m agraduate of the Acme School of Art and I work as a photo assistant. I recently got to fly to Los Angeles and assist on an annual report shoot. It's amazing how long it takes to create one photo."

Practice your short speech with your roommate so that when you run into an important person that you’ve been dying to meet at a film screening, you don’t mumble and sound like a sophomore on a first date.

4. Ask for someone's business card.

If you meet someone and cannot get a card, jot down their name in your phone or in a notebook as soon as possible. It’s not too difficult to later use the Internet to gather their contact details. Put that information in your contact database. It is potentially very valuable, which is why one of the leading client relationship management (CRM) programs is called GoldMine. Once you have contact info, write the person you just met an email – then friend them on Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

5. Volunteer at your alma mater on phone solicitation night.

Meeting and connecting with older people who went to your college is one way to network, and giving back to your college can be a positive experience.

6. When you meet new people, remember Dale Carnegie.

Dale Carnegie wrote a book in 1936 called "How to Win Friends and Influence People". The Big Idea of this book was that people love to talk about themselves. So, when you meet someone new, focus the conversation on what that person is interested in. Pretend you are Terry Gross on Fresh Air and interview them. Listening is better than blabbing.

Read the other parts of this series.

This is Part 4 of a 6 part series. Here is a link to Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part 5.