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!

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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.

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