First of all – you don’t know everything there is to know about business networking. Admit it. Nor do I, or anyone for that matter. The first thing you need to know is that business networking is a professional contact sport! Notice I said, “professional!” Professional networkers are always learning how to do it better. They check their ego at the door and get down to the business of exchanging ideas, information and helping others.
Next, you must present yourself in your best possible light at all times, every time. Present yourself with poise, professionalism, and ease. Confident, but never cocky!
“Always walk into a room like you OWN it.” ~ Starla West (a lesson learned from her cat)
Starla also says, “One of the keys to boosting our personal magnetism is using our appearance, behavior and communication skills to create a comfortable environment where others are made to feel important when interacting with us. The more we do this, the more others will want to be around us.”
When you make your appearance with confidence people tend to trust you more than someone who appears to be timid and unsure of himself. Don’t “act” like the host, “be” the host. Introduce the shy people to others you know that might be in a position to help them. If you’re going to be a player, you must act like one. No one is out of your league.
Your level of self-confidence can show up in many ways: your behavior, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and more. Be brave and talk with people who appear to be doing very well. Self-confidence is about balance. At one extreme, we have people with low self-confidence. At the other end, we have people who may be over-confident. Always strive to be somewhere in the middle. If you need help, find an expert that can help. Networking with confidence is at the top of the list of the professional’s ways to be.
Never be afraid to talk to strangers. A few minutes with them can quickly tell you whether they are someone you may want to spend time with.
Learn the art of working a room. Don’t just show up. Ask lots of questions, exchange business cards with people you will like to get to know better, and request additional introductions to people you want to meet.
Communicate like a pro. My friend, Don Hutson says, “If you can’t say it with, ‘Blah,’ don’t say ‘Blah, blah!'” Your posture, your self-introduction, your handshake, starting a conversation and exchanging business cards all make an impression and open the door for future networking. Making the first move to communicating with others is a demonstration in self-conficence. Maintain good eye contact. Make sure the conversation is mostly about them.
Dress the part. First impressions are everything. Dressing well helps to position yourself as an expert. People do judge you by your looks and you never know who you will run into. Your unconscious mind takes only about 10 seconds or less to form an opinion – positive or negative. Ask the event host about dress code. When in doubt, business casual is your best bet. No blue jeans and t-shirts. If you can tie it in with your branding, like a Mary Kay representative wearing pink, or perhaps a dress shirt embroidered with your business logo, all the better. Well groomed is good.
There’s no such thing as being fashionably late to a networking event. Get there early – greet others as they arrive and stay late.
When you get a few minutes, watch the following video by my friend, Andy Lopata. (Approximately 42 minutes)
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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