Friday, May 29, 2009

Effective Networking: It's in YOUR hands!

Effective Networking, whether for business or social purposes is not that easy a task as we might think. It requires quite a bit of work from YOUR part, and it happens in 3 stages: Before, During and After.

If you are about to attend a Networking event that will bring together, let's say, a multitude of business people who conduct business in your area, consider the following:

  • Find out who will probably be attending the event. Ask around. Ask the place (a restaurant?) or the Event organizers.
  • If someone interesting is expected to attend, and you are planning on meeting them, do your homework on them. Read about what they do, and learn about their latest ventures.
  • Make sure you understand the attire suggested, and choose something comfortable, professional, neutral, clean and wrinkle-free.
  • Load up on business cards and actually, grab a few from your close business partners/friends to take with you as well. You never know what you'll end up talking about, and maybe someone will ask you if you know any great Doctor, Doggie Daycare, Social Media Expert you trust..and you'll be glad to provide a reference!

  • Don't be shy. If you're too shy to talk to anybody new, don't even go. So, with this said, work on your shyness, and be professionally spontaneous. If you don't know what to say, ask questions! People love talking about what they do, what they like, what they want!
  • DON'T eat or drink too much. You're not there for the food and drinks.
  • If you do drink, don't hold it in your right hand. Who wants to shake a cold, wet hand anyway?
  • Same thing with food: Don't pick your finger food, then quickly eat it, wipe your hand off on your suit jacket and extend your hand for a handshake trying to let out a "Nice to meet you!" while still chewing...Uff!
  • Collect business cards and make a mental picture of ALL of them connected to each person. You will need them later!
  • Hand out business cards as well, and while doing so, add information about your business, location, new product/service...something that will create a mental connection of you, your business and the business card to the person you're giving the card to.
  • Don't stay in one spot. Work the room. Walk around, and look for people who are doing the same thing. Don't jump into a rather closed circle of people already in the middle of a conversation. Create your own circle and bring in people whom you've just met! Introduce them, properly, which will also help you retain their name and business info!

  • Less than 48h after the event, send out any information you had promised people you would provide them with (an article on wardrobe faux-pas? A great appetizer recipe? Your event list for the Fall?)
  • In the same time frame, contact, via e-mail or blog postings (if applicable) how much you enjoyed meeting them and chatting about "abc" with them. Offer your services, your help and hope for future contact. Keep it simple and professional.
  • Don't be alarmed if the person NEVER answers back. I know, that's just not only rude, but a pitty. It shows how THEY don't take their networking seriously. Don't cry over it. Move on to those who care.
  • Look for additional networking events organized by the same group and different one, and mark them down in your calendar, making plans to attend. Don't attend an event if it conflicts with your own work/presentation/travel plans. Remember, you still have to work, or maybe even, your own business to run.
  • Keep a networking event BOOK or LOG! Yes! Write down the date, event name, time, people you've met, follow-ups, relationships built. Keep growing it!

Good luck!
I look forward to reading about your Networking Tips!

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