Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Monday, December 28, 2009

Come Early and Stay Late!

Inexperienced networkers come to meetings late and leave as soon as the speaker has finished or the group is dismissed. That is a mistake. Networking occurs before and after the meeting.

Often the best opportunities for networking are before the start of the formal program and immediately after the meeting. If you only come to see who is there, to be seen or to stuff your face with food, you’re missing out. Follow my rule: “First in, last out.”

Coming early – Be sure you circulate before the meeting. See who is there. Mingle. Put on a “happy face” as you enter and remind yourself that it is “show time”. Ask the coordinator if there is anyone in particular that he/she suggests that you need to meet. Ask the event host to make the introduction. Find that person, introduce yourself and choose a seat next to them. Be the one who orders a non-alcoholic drink. Keep a clear head.

Be an early bird. Get there ahead of the rest. You can then relax and focus on learning about the other people in the room. Preparation goes a long way in making you appear to be someone that other people will want to get to know. Be a greeter (official or otherwise). This puts you in a position of meeting people you don’t know. If you see someone standing alone, introduce them to someone else and move on to greet someone else.

Staying late – Make it a point to greet people you’ve met in the past. If you have leads for them, now is a great time to get their full attention. Be one of the last to leave. Some of the most successful networkers I know always linger until there is no one else to talk with. Some of the most important “schmoozing” takes place after the meeting.

If you meet someone new and they catch your attention, invite them to have coffee or a drink after the meeting away from the crowd. Ask them to suggest someone you should know. Networking doesn’t have to end when the meeting is over. Be generous with your own knowledge and connections. Lisbeth Calandrino calls these tidbits, “brain snacks!”

When you stay late offer to help out when necessary. Tell the organizer HOW you would like to help that demonstrates some of your highly valued skills. That way you won’t get stuck doing some menial task that you can’t get excited about. Often the people who volunteer are the ones who are included in the leader’s circle of friends.

Make small talk with new friends. Small talk is not trivial. No serious banter about “your” business. It’s get acquainted time. Introduce yourself then ask, “What do you do?” Show an interest in others. Establish eye contact, then raise a non-threatening small-talk topic.

The purpose of small talk is to break the ice, build rapport and gain trust. Do you both “click?” Without rapport, there is no foundation to develop a long-term relationship. Offer a firm handshake. Wear a name tag on the right side of your jacket or dress and keep a smile on your face.

Professional networking meetings are one of the best ways to continually revitalize and grow your network. However, if you attend meetings without a clear strategy for maximizing their value, you may end up as a wall-flower, merely watching other people network and wondering why you gave up the time in the first place.

netHQ

Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Can’t find my book in your bookstore, order a signed copy from Larry James. Visit Larry’s “Networking HQ” Website; articles, tips, networking books and more!

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Planes & Boats & Trains & Other Places to Network!

Long train journeys, airplane trips, airport departure lounges, corporate hospitality events, product launches, trade shows, conferences – all offer the chance to start a conversation with someone who may become a valuable contact when networking. Anywhere people congregate there are possibilities.

netpost-itAll you have to be is a little out-going and strike up a conversation. I once booked a major speech at a Fortune 500 because I resisted the urge to snooze on an airplane and chose instead to talk to a stranger in the next seat. He began the conversation by asking if I had been on a holiday.

You can network anywhere. It’s been said that the best time to network is when you don’t have to. In other words, when you have so much business that you don’t need to. So. . . guess that means that you should be networking all the time. Networking can be the most rewarding and beneficial when there is no immediate need to be fulfilled.

You should take every opportunity to build your network before you need it. It really doesn’t matter where or when. Networking is a key strategy to growing a successful business. It is an on-going process in which we continually hone our skills.

Practice having purposeful conversations with others. People love to talk about themselves. Ask a question that will give them the opportunity.

Business really is about relationships especially in today’s competitive marketplace where the economy has created numerous entrepreneurs who are all competing for the same piece of pie. Knowing the right person or persons is critical to converting networking activities into dollars.

For me, small networking groups have proven to be the most dependable source for networking. They usually have only one member per business category. Once you have come to understand and trust each other, they will recommend you to friends and colleagues. Many of the smaller networking groups hold structured breakfast or lunch meetings where you can give a 30 second connection to describe the product or service you offer. This prevents that “tongue-tied” moment when someone asks you what you do.

I suggest that you choose your group carefully. Research the group. Talk to the members. Explore their success with the group. Choose a group that focuses on business rather than social values. The purpose of business networking groups is to grow business from the outside. You can always socialize away from the group. I believe the groups that place the emphasis on social aspects are far less effective in the long run. If you really are willing to work at it, your business will thrive like never before with the right network.

Smaller groups tend to meet weekly, are more structured and limit the number of missed meetings. They also usually monitor the referrals given. You are never more than seven days away from seeing each other. Frequency works. The more you show up, the more favorably you will be in the minds of your networking friends. Accountability is a must. You will usually find that groups with strong leaders hold their members accountable for attendance and referrals given. Smaller groups can do this better than the large “anyone and everyone is invited” groups.

If they are having a conversation with others about your product or service, they can recommend you. It’s not smart to expect immediate results, however, you can always expect quicker results the more often you see each other. The secret to getting referrals from the relationships you have established is to “give” referrals.

Another secret to getting more referrals is to make a contribution to the group. That may consist of volunteering for a committee, running for an officer position, or greeting people as they arrive at the meeting. Ask to be a speaker or host for an upcoming event. The more you put in, the more you get out. The heavier your involvement, the faster you will see results.

HOT TIP: To help you remember to give referrals, keep your group contacts in the front of your mind all the time. Have several business cards of every member and keep it with you are all times. Visit an office supply store and purchase a business card holder. Whenever a conversation arises where it’s appropriate to recommend them, you have their information at the ready. You become known as a hub of useful contacts because you are always ready to refer your friends. This is one of those networking skills that it pays to hone.

Stay away from groups that appear to have cliques. The mindset of a successful networker is to provide value to others. . . not just your favorite friends.

It seems to me that the main advantage of a large networking event with no accountability is you will almost always find fresh faces to meet. However, most of the people attending these large events are not very savvy regarding networking etiquette. Many of them attend networking organizations to get business for themselves. You will usually find a lot of “what’s in it for me” people at large events. They are usually quick to tell everything they know about themselves and their product. Read, “Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .

The only purpose of attending a large networking event is to get exposure, meet people and build a relationship. Building the relationship takes time. You cannot rush it. If you try to make a sale on the spot you are making a big mistake. That’s the “me, me, me” mentality and that doesn’t work!

Chambers of Commerce, professional associations, service organizations are also good places to network. However, to get a return on your investment, you must carefully weigh how much time you are involved versus how well the group pays off with long-term relationships that can become endless referral sources of business.

I’ve had minor success by hanging out in shopping malls, food courts, kid’s soccer game, and (with the utmost finesse) some church groups. Random interactions with people often offer results in unusual ways. While networking meeting are great opportunities, there are some very useful online tools and Websites that can help you connect with people from all backgrounds. They are usually better for meeting people, not networking in its truest sense.

Volunteering for charity organizations and not-for-profit groups can also help you build connections.

The power of people, technology, collaboration, conversation, and relationship goes far beyond the present moment. All you need is an open mind and an intent to genuinely assist and connect with others. People are everywhere. Wherever you go always be prepared to network!

netHQ

Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Visit ” Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

Add Larry James to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
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NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Be a Networking Power Connector!

Filed under: Networking,Networking Article — Larry James @ 8:00 am
Tags: , ,

What are “power connectors?” –

Power connectors are people who get involved. One way to make yourself more at ease is to give yourself something to do. Volunteering at a networking event not only gives you a job to do, but gets you involved and naturally connects you with other volunteers and participants.

Power connectors never over-power those that they meet. They use people’s names. People always like to hear their own name and it will help you to remember it when the conversation is over. They are the first to say, “hello.” People are waiting for someone to break the ice. They also make themselves accessible.

Power connectors use social networking sites not just networking events. They are active on Facebook, Twitter and others. They ignite word-of-mouth buzz and encourage their friends to past it on. They focus on awareness, not persuasion. Their participation, their e-mail signatures, and their profiles create awareness. Those who are interested will be attracted to you and will come to you for information and assistance.

powerconnectorPower connectors avoid making predictions. Have you ever zoned out during a conversation? If we think we know what someone is about to say, sometimes we stop listening and start drifting. One great communication technique is a term called focused attention. Focus on the words, not the person. Don’t get distracted by an ugly dress, weird hairstyle or goofy tie. It’s mostly about demonstrating effective listening skills. To be interesting you must first be interested! Pay attention. Ask a question that is on-topic whenever possible. For example, “So, where else do you normally network?”

Power connectors are very much aware that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others. Schmoozing pays off. They get to know people. Read, “Networking Defined.”

Power connectors do not spread themselves too thin. In other words, they seek out one or two networking events that makes the best use of their time instead of trying to be everywhere.

Power connectors scuttled the “what is in it for me?” attitude. They give more than they take. They ask, “How can I help you?” They avoid gravitating to people they know. After saying their brief “hellos” to their friends, they look for someone new to talk with.

Power connectors are always ready with a “30-second connection” (or less) ; sometimes called an “elevator speech.” Read, “Sam Horn’s Take on Elevator Speeches!”

Power connectors work hard to become known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a reliable resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.

Power connectors articulate what they are looking for and how others can help them. They have a clear understanding of what networking is and know what they want to accomplish from it.

powergroup2Power connectors ALWAYS carry business cards. They are NEVER without them. (The 500 cards you collected through networking activities last year aren’t doing you much good wrapped in a rubber band lying in desk drawer.)

Power connectors follow up quickly and efficiently on referrals they are given. They know that people have short memories. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow endlessly.

Power connectors don’t fear the big shots. They are the first to introduce themselves and say, “Hello.” They know that the best information comes from someone who is very successful. They also know that those people are almost always willing to share their success with you. Power connectors expand their comfort zone.

Power connectors have BLOGS. They BLOG regularly and consistently. Be consistent, not persistent. Long gaps in your BLOG participation will be noticed. They will often have guest authors share relative information with their readers. They cross-promote. Blogging is a valuable tool to stimulate personal dialogue with potential clients and customers. It can attract more hits to your Website and having a Website gives your business credibility in the eyes of prospective clientele.

Power connectors are strategic with their networking. They have a plan. That plan includes networking as part of their overall marketing strategy. They spend time with prospects – or people who might know a prospect – asking questions and collecting information. They focus on quality contacts versus quantity. They are extremely intentional.

Power connectors demonstrate the value of their expertise or services by sending prospects and clients an idea or suggestion they can use right away.

ginsbergbookPower connectors are approachable. Their very presence puts others at ease. They are ready to engage with conversation topics, questions and stories in the back of their mind ready to go as soon as they meet someone. This will help you avoid those awkward “How’s the weather?” conversations. You may want to read, “The Power of Approachability” by my friend, Scott Ginsberg.

Power connectors never wait until they need help before they network. Many people who network wait until they need new customers or their boss forced them to do so. Those kind of people often disregard the rules of engagement of networking or the “collaborative etiquette” of networking and come across as desperate!

Power connectors – like my friend, Scott Ginsberg, know that there is a time and place for networking: ANY time and ANY place. Because you just never know whom you might meet.

My friend, Donna Fisher, says, “Networking is like a treasure hunt. With a treasure hunt, you know there are jewels out there, you just don’t know where, and the fun is in finding the jewels. With networking, there are jewels out there everywhere – you just don’t know where. So you meet this person, talk to this person, go to this meeting, call another person… and sometimes nothing will happen until all of a sudden you’ll find one of those jewels! And sometimes those jewels show up in the most unexpected places. Let your life be a treasure hunt! Let it be fun. Let it be an exploration, and I guarantee you’ll have a life full of jewels!”

netHQ

Copyright © 2009 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Can’t find my book in your bookstore, order a signed copy from Larry James. Visit Larry’s “Networking HQ” Website; articles, tips, networking books and more!

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

Add Larry James to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Building Personal People Skills

Filed under: Networking,Networking Article — Larry James @ 8:00 am
Tags: , ,

Donna Fisher, CSP, Guest Author –

Once a good introduction has been made, the follow-through with people is the most critical factor in word-of-mouth marketing. Following are some ideas for honing a new relationship:

Stay in Touch – After meeting people, be sure to send them a personal note. It can be a thank you, a confirmation of the next meeting, an invitaion to a business group breakfast or it may include an interesting article that pertains to their business.

Make 10 Calls Each Week – Be sure to practice good listening skills and don’t do all the talking.

Play Fairly – Take a unique approach and think about ways to refer business to others. They will be inclined to return the favor.

Be Appreciative – Don’t forget to thank others for business leads.

Thinking of You – It’s important to occasionally call friends, clients and associates for no other reason than to say, “Hi.” This type of call will keep the communication lines open without a sales pitch.

Use High Tech Communications – High tech tools can be utilized to touch others in today’s changing marketplace. Many prefer to use e-mail, so it’s important to have e-mail addresses. Ensure that databases are updated and organized regularly.

Develop Friendships – Look for opportunities to develop a personal and professional friendship. Friends not only will enhance business, but they can bring balance to the pressures of work.

BONUS Article:
Your Networking Fortune is in Your Follow-Up!

Copyright 2009 – Donna Fisher – Reprinted with permission. Donna Fisher, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), is a professional speaker, trainer and author of Power Networking: 59 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success. She teaches people skills essential for business success. For further information: www.DonnaFisher.com or 800-934-9675.

netHQLarry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

letsbefriends2

Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Making Strong Connections

Brian Tracy, Guest Author –

There are Seven Basic Principles. . .

Relationships can be extremely complicated, but to build and maintain quality relationships requires only a few basic principles. Let me give you seven.

Trust

The first is the principle of trust. All relationships are ultimately based on trust. To build trust, you always keep your word. You remain consistent and dependable in everything you say and do. You become the kind of person who is utterly reliable in every situation. You never do or say anything that can shake this fundamental foundation of trust upon which your relationships are built.

Respect

The second principle is respect. Taking time to deliberately express your respect for the uniqueness of an individual makes him or her feel very valuable and important. By demonstrating that kind of respect, you build and enhance the quality of your relationship.

Communication

The third principle for success in relationships is communication. In communicating well with another person, time is the critical factor. The value of a relationship can increase for both you and the other person depending on the amount of time that you invest. When you take the time to focus on the important issues of a relationship, you open the channels of communication. And when you listen attentively, calmly, quietly, and with total attention, you demonstrate the respect you have for the other person, and you deepen the level of trust between you.

Courtesy

The fourth principle is courtesy. When you say “please” and “thank you” on a regular basis to the people in your life, you make them feel better about themselves and about what they are doing. You raise their self-esteem. And alas, it is often with the people we care about most that we are the least courteous and polite. Emmet Fox once wrote, “If you must be rude, be rude to strangers. But save your company manners for your family.”

Caring

The fifth principle is caring. The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. The kindest thing you can do is to refrain from criticizing, condemning or complaining to them or about them. Think of yourself as a people-builder rather than a people-basher. Catch them doing something right. Always look for ways to make people feel more valuable, more respected, and more loved. The three most powerful words in any personal relationship are the words, “I love you.” Repeat them as often as possible and in as many different ways as possible to the most important people in your life.

Praise and Appreciation

The sixth principle is a combination of praise and appreciation for everything that others do for you, both large and small. When you express your appreciation to another person for something they do for you, they feel better about themselves, and they want to do more of it. And there is a kickback effect that causes your own self-esteem to go up, exactly as if you yourself had been praised.

Helpfulness

The seventh principle for success in relationships is simply helpfulness, especially with those people with whom you live. Your constant willingness to step in and do little things to alleviate the burdens felt by your spouse and children is always appreciated and respected. This willingness to share, to contribute, to help each other is an important facet of lasting relationships.

Perhaps the most important thing you ever do in life is build and maintain long-term, happy, healthy, fulfilling relationships with other people you love and who love and care about you. When you make everything else secondary to this central purpose, you will find yourself enjoying happiness and rewards in exponential proportion to the efforts you put in.

Read, “Networking: A Crash Course in Personal Development.”
Read, “Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .

Brian Tracy photoCopyright © 2009 – Brian Tracy – Reprinted with permission. Brian Tracy is the most listened to audio author on personal and business success in the world today. His fast-moving talks and seminars on leadership, sales, managerial effectiveness and business strategy are loaded with powerful, proven ideas and strategies that people can immediately apply to get better results in every area. For more information, please go to: www.BrianTracy.com.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .

. . . UNLESS you have learned the collaborative etiquette of networking!

Hmmm. Got your attention didn’t I? I suppose all networking is good, however, what brings the most productive long-term benefit to both parties is the manner in which the relationship is built.

networkingEventWhat is the collaborative etiquette of networking?

Collaborative, n.
1. The act of working together; united labor.
2. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.

Etiquette, n.
1. The practices and forms prescribed by social convention or by authority.
2. The customs or rules governing behavior regarded as correct or acceptable in social or official life

So, collaborative etiquette is: The act of working together within the practice of mutually beneficial social convention. Put another way, it is networking in a way that subscribes to the idea that networking is about using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals. . . expecting nothing in return. Collaborative etiquette is the lubrication that makes things run smoothly. Without it, you may permanently alienate others.

And yet another way. . . it’s practicing the “Go Giver” mentality not the “give to get” mentality. In other words, the “give to get” mentality is giving with an expectation of receiving something from the person you gave to. Not good. This is a set-up for disappointment because that is not the way it usually works. When you give it “always” comes back to you but not always from the person you contributed to.

Keep your expectations in check. Remember, unfulfilled expectations always cause problems. If you don’t get what you expect, you get disappointed. Disappointment leads to resentment, frustration and upsets. Having expectations is a luxury you cannot afford in networking.

I am disgusted with the “meet” market mass hysteria that seems to follow very large networking events. Avoid this schmoozefest. And. . . nothing irritates me more than having a “Networking Nancy” or a “Networking Ned” shove a business card in hand and say, “What do you do?” and before I can answer, they interrupt with their unsolicited pitch without waiting to see if I care. Like they care? It doesn’t feel like it. Like I care? Hardly. No one cares about your opportunity until they know how much you care.

Hysteria, n.
1. Behavior exhibiting excessive or uncontrollable emotion, such as fear or panic.

Fear or panic, eh? Seems to me to fit the profile of a networking newbie or someone who flat doesn’t understand the collaborative etiquette of networking. The fear may come from their concern about business not being so good or that they feel they must work really hard to meet as many people as they can to help them or they will fail. They don’t know that in networking we are there to stir up a collaborative relationship where we truly help each other.

Building trust comes way before giving a sales spiel.

Collaboration is the key to increased networking efficiency. Did you get that? Collaboration! That means to work together! Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together toward common goals. There’s another key. . . working together!

IMPORTANT: Networking is about helping each other. It’s a two-way street!

Before me stands someone who is desperate to get business – coming from fear – rather than take the time it takes to develop a long-lasting relationship.

Desperate, n.
1. One desperate or hopeless.

Another irritant is having an MLMer (multi-level or network marketer) try to recruit me into their fold without telling me hardly anything about their scheme where I can make $20,000 a month. It seems to me that it should be this way: help someone understand and like the product by being a user of the product and much later. . . introduce them to a way that they might make a few extra dollars in their spare time. I know how it works because at one point in my life I was a very successful MLMer. Networking events are not about recruiting. If you are someone who does this, you will soon get a reputation as a networking pest and your networking opportunities will soon evaporate.

Sometimes I want to scream, “Stop trying to sell me. I don’t even know you and you certainly have no clue about what my motivation is for being here!” Michelle Villalobos (BNI Member, Miami) calls this, “premature solicitation.”

“Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.” ~ Seth Godin

My friend, Jim Rohn once said, “The more you know, the less you need to say.” Sometimes is is wise to just keep your mouth shut and let the other person blab on about whatever it is they do. Then excuse yourself politely and move on to meet someone else.

Be clear. Networking is using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals. . . expecting nothing in return! And if a business lead grows from conversation with another networker that’s the bonus! Not the intent.

At a networking event what comes first?

1. Small Talk

No serious banter about “your” business. It’s get acquainted time. Introduce yourself then ask, “What do you do?” Show an interest in others. Establish eye contact, then raise a non-threatening small-talk topic. The purpose of small talk is to break the ice, build rapport and gain trust. Do you both “click?” Without rapport, there is no foundation to develop a long-term relationship. Offer a firm handshake. Wear a name tag on the right side of your jacket or dress.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Observe and listen. Listening is the heart of communication. Target the person’s interests. Be mentally engaged in what the other person is saying. Interact with positive observations and questions about how you might help them. Look for a keyword or phrase that is in some way related to the topic that you would like to discuss with this person. Ask relevant questions and avoid wasting his or her time. Determine what the person believes he or she needs related to you, then link yourself to their needs. Offer to help if you think you can contribute. Never be afraid to take initiative. Be pleasant, respectful and polite.

Avoid any type of sarcasm or negativity. Offer no, “Business is bad” talk. Keep the conversation positive. Insert positive reinforcement into the conversation. Make good eye contact. Be relaxed and confident. Respect their personal space. Easy on the business cards (see #2). Never be afraid to ask for help. Most people are flattered to be asked for assistance, tips and advice.

“Be careful of receiving counsel from unproductive or toxic people—they don’t follow their own advice. Healthy people will not join in your sorrow—they will show you a brighter vision!” – Steven Connor

Maintain focus on the one you are talking with. It’s rude to be looking over their shoulder to see who else would be your next likely victim. It should only take a few minutes of small talk to help you make the right choice about whether this is someone you want to follow-up with.

“People who listen well are so memorable because they make us feel special when we are face-to-face. These smart and savvy communicators do not allow themselves to be distracted by phones, buzzing text messages or Blackberrys. They don’t walk into a party, a meeting or a memorial wearing a Bluetooth. They are “in the moment” not waiting for someone, anyone – to call, text, IM or twitter in the next moment. And we love them for that.” – Susan RoAne

Postpone further discussions if the person wants to get down to business right away and there are others present. Exchanges business cards and set an appointment to consider the matter in greater depth. You must carefully consider who you choose to connect with. For the people you do reject, show respect by offering alternatives. Perhaps someone else in your network could help them.

2. Exchange Business Cards. . . MAYBE!

I seldom offer my business card to someone I would rather not do business with. If they ask, I will oblige. Make business card exchanges meaningful. Only exchange cards with someone when it will be of benefit to both of you. “Hello, my name is Boring Bobby, have a card” doesn’t work.

Demonstrate that you have common sense. Send the appropriate message to others in order to avoid misunderstandings and foster trust. If you want to pursue the relationship say so and follow up. If not say, “Please excuse me, I’ve enjoyed speaking with you.” Smile and move on.

3. Don’t butt in!

If you see several people talking and you would like to join them, approach with sensitivity. Stand quietly several feet away for a second or two. If there is a break in the conversation or if someone in the group happens to look your way – use your good judgment – and take a step forward and introduce yourself. If that doesn’t happen, exit immediately with “excuse me.” It should be clear that they choose not to invite anyone else into the conversation.

4. Butt Out!

There is always one Boring Bobby or Boring Betty at every large networking event. These are the people you want to get away from as soon as possible. Say, “I’d like to grab a Pepsi. Feel free to mingle with others.” Or. . . offer to introduce them to someone else, then make the introductions and as they begin to chat with each other, politely excuse yourself. People like this are a challenge. Never feel obliged to suffer through their monotony at a networking event.

5. Keep your word!

Follow through on your promises. Never, I repeat, never offer anything unless you plan to follow through.

6. Follow up! – Promptly

Think of creative ways to keep in touch. Thank people for leads, tips and ideas even if their suggestions don’t work out; your contacts will appreciate the follow-up. E-mail and a phone call are okay but a face-to-face connection with someone you want to know better is best. Practice appropriate persistence and be sensitive to time constraints.

My guess would be that the biggest percentage of people who attend large networking events have had little, if any, training on how to network correctly. They are not even aware of the simple slip-ups that can cascade into full-blown avoidance by others in the network. They are thinking: “Sell, sell, sell.” Wrong!

They mostly see it as an opportunity to collect business leads. By the way, working the room does not mean meeting as many people as you can and collecting the most business cards. A poor approach to networking can have a devastating effect however an effective approach using collaborative etiquette can open countless doors and opportunities.

At a recent networking event I stopped at the name tag table and asked to speak with the person who was hosting the event. The young women behind the table immediately looked around the room, spotted the host and said, “Come with me. I’ll introduce you to her.” That’s class.

Why is effective networking so important? Because networking isn’t just a great idea anymore; networking is an essential and long-term component of developing and maintaining long-term business relationships. The basics of effective networking are easy to learn, but as with most professional skills, they must be practiced and perfected in order to be effective.

So. . . are we clear? Networking is NOT about selling or collecting business cards. It’s about building relationships. Always remember, successful networking is based on giving more than you take.

The stability, power and longevity of a tribe is directly related to the way it is treated by its members. When many of them seek to take, to enrich themselves and to find a loophole or advantage, the group is weakened. ~ Seth Godin

Never assume that those within your network share your religious, political, or social beliefs. It’s best to stay away from these topics.

You would be wise to create a 5 to 10 second “elevator speech” for a large event. One that briefly describes what you do. At smaller events you will often be asked to introduce yourself and a 30-second connection would be more appropriate.

If you are unclear about what networking is about. . . get help before you damage your reputation and become someone others avoid when they see you coming. (You know people like that, don’t you?) Don’t become one of them. Hire a coach. It is important to learn the ropes from someone who knows the ropes.

The proper application of collaborative etiquette in networking will empower you to build and nurture your own network. Make a commitment to put these powerful guidelines into action and you’ll be attracting a vast number of new team members and business partners into your network. Put to use the guidelines of collaborative etiquette to your networking opportunities and before long the contacts will be coming to you, instead of the other way around.

Commitment, n.
1 an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled

The quality of relationships you build in networking are far superior to the quantity of friends you make.

“These lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships begin with projecting an outstanding impression, but are sustained through trust and the investment of time and effort to help others.” – Aviva Shiff, co-founder of Spark Training & Coaching Associates

Bonus Link: Watch a brief video featuring Phyllis Davis on Networking Etiquette. Click here. (Highly Recommended).

Read, “Networking, And Why It Sucks” by Kristy Swanson, Personal and Professional Coach, Kirkland, Washington
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Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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