Fire Up! Your Networking Skills!

Networking is About People and How You Make them Feel

I recently attended three networking events in one day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I observed some interesting behaviors.  At the evening reception, I encountered a woman I had met a few times and I smiled and said hello.  She greeted me with great enthusiasm and we hugged.  She then kindly introduced me to her group, saying nice things about me. She immediately put me at ease and I wanted to know all about her and her group.  We connected on Linked in after the event and I sent her a follow-up email.  She was an excellent networker and was delightful!

That was in contrast to a woman I saw at the networking luncheon, whom I said hello to.  We had a shared learning experience in common and I asked her about it, and she distractedly looked around the room, never really answered my question and made it abundantly clear she did not want to talk to me.  So I moved on.  Which woman made a bigger impression on me?  Who would I be more likely to refer business to?

Do's and Don'ts of Networking

Do come prepared.  Know who will be attending, research the group, have business cards, breath spray or mints.  Wear appropriate clothing- nothing too wild. Smile often.

Don't try to get as many business cards as possible -aim for quality not quantity.

Do aim to meet 3-5 people and have meaningful conversations where you ask them meaningful questions like:
- How long have you been in that industry?
- What do you like best about it?
- What trends or changes do you see happening?
- Describe your ideal client
- What would you say to someone entering the field?
- Have you got any vacation plans?
- Anything exciting coming up at work or home?

Do get their business card and follow up. A hand-written note is very rare and highly prized.  Reference what you learned abut them in the conversation.

Don't spend the whole conversation talking about yourself, even if they ask.  Keep redirecting the talk to them.  Add value. . Offer to connect them to others.  Find out what they need and refer others to them.  Be the source for them.

Don't gossip or speak ill of others, particularly your competition.  Take the high road.  If you don't have anything good to say, don't say it.

Stay in touch every 3-4 weeks.  Add value.  Send an article they might be interested in, invite them to lunch, send them a referral.  Build the relationship.

Networking can lead to great business opportunities or friendships, if you do it right. Come with the idea of helping others and you will always come out a winner.

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