Dear Matt: What is network marketing and how can I succeed in making contacts using this method? Also, what are some groups I could join or get information on in the Twin Cities?

Matt: It's all about relationships in business, says Pamela Muldoon, business and executive coach with Minneapolis-based ActionCOACH Business Coaching.

"People want to work with and buy from their friends," she says. "Building strategic partnerships with other people in business who have a similar target can leverage your time and marketing dollars. This is done by cultivating relationships and creating strategic partnerships."

How can one succeed in network marketing? Muldoon offers these tips:

Know your target

Who are you are looking to meet? Whether you are seeking a new job or getting that next big client, go to where your target market goes.

Want to meet CEOs and executives in business? Attend an event like the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast. Want to meet CPAs or lawyers? Find out when their next local association luncheon meeting is and register to attend.

Have a plan

When entering a networking event, come with a plan. Are you there to make five new connections? Are you there to connect with a specific company? Are you there to get advice on a recent situation or problem? Whatever it is, make it your intention to introduce yourself to a member of your target audience.

Show up

The Twin Cities is home to many groups and organizations, such as chambers of commerce and industry associations. In addition, there are local networking organizations like Firestorm , BNI Minnesota, Twin Cities Business Startup Meetup Group, and the Biz Blogger Meetup Group to name just a few.

Listen

Engage other people by asking questions about them, their businesses, their target markets, their latest big wins and their latest big challenges. Connect with other people - don't sell to them.

Follow up

Why do so many people say networking doesn't work? Because of their inability to follow up after the event. Within 24 hours, send an individual e-mail to everyone you met. You have started to build the foundation - now it's up to you to make it stronger with each connection.

"Always be willing to do what others are not willing to do," says Muldoon. "Put in the extra effort and I promise you, it will pay off."


Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. The first Sunday of each month this column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to AskMatt@startribune.com.