Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Monday, March 30, 2015

“I Don’t Have Time to Network!”

Filed under: Networking — Larry James @ 7:30 am
Tags: ,

Do you consider networking to be a distinct and separate activity – like an item on your “to-do” list? Hmmm. Perhaps that could be part of the problem.

Networking should not be a separate “to-do” item. To work, you must make networking an integral part of your day-to-day activities.

NETnoTIME“I don’t have time to network!” I hear this comment mostly from people who have not had any training and who do not know that networking to work, takes time. It takes time because building solid business relationships takes time. It doesn’t happen after attending a meeting or two. Networking is about relationships.

Others who say this are equally untrained and think that networking is about “getting” business referrals. While getting business referrals is part of networking, for people to like you and trust you enough to “give” you a business referral they need to know you, what you do and what you need.

Attending huge networking events, pushing your business card in someone’s hand (whether they asked for it or not) and asking for their business can only be a waste of your time. My experience tells me that using such an aggressive approach will certainly turn more people off than on. It can surely cause you to consider networking a waste of time because networking doesn’t work that way. So you justify quitting and say “I don’t have time” because what you were doing was indeed a waste of time.

People network all the time. It is not necessary to carve out extra time for networking. It should be your modus operandi for success in business and in life! Successful networking doesn’t happen by accident. For some, networking is intuitive, but most of us have to learn how to be successful at it and utilize our network constructively.

If no one has told you how networking works, then it’s time to get busy and ask questions of those who are successful at it and learn everything you can about how to utilize your time effectively.

There are basically two ways to network. One is by attending large events and two, by being committed to a smaller group of people who meet every week to network. For best results, I recommend the latter.

Large groups are for when you have an extra hour or two to attend, socialize and talk with your friends. Very little networking occurs except perhaps in the follow-up after the event. However, collecting business cards and not following up is another waste of time.

NETnoTIME2I favor the smaller groups of 40 to 65 people, who meet weekly and have rules (or bylaws) to hold networkers accountable for attendance and for bringing business referrals to others in the group. I also prefer breakfast (get a fresh start on the day) or lunch meetings. They are, in my opinion, worth much more than the time you invest to because an integral part of the group. Someone who is integral is very important or necessary. That’s you! If you are an integral part of the group, it means that the group cannot fully function without you. So, that means that you must make no excuses for missing a meeting. Put it on your schedule and never miss a meeting. If you are attending more than one networking meeting every week you are wasting your time!

Others who use the excuse, “I don’t have time to network,” are often those who become weary trying to cram 4 or five networking meetings (sometimes, breakfast, lunch and dinner meetings) into their weekly schedule. Even I don’t have time for that! This is never a good strategy. I know people who are hopping around town visiting as many networking meetings as possible. Based upon what I know, that strategy is not very productive.

I believe that if you choose one – only one – active networking meeting to attend every week and do everything you can to discover the needs of the members – really get to know them – and be loyal to the same group, then things will begin to happen the likes of which you have not experienced before.

So… in truth, you do have time when you use it effectively! You never have time to do the things you do not want to do!

BONUS Articles: How Many Networking Groups Should You Join?
Networking Events Are a Waste of Time – Unless You Attend Strategically
Don’t Have Time for Business Networking?
You’re Busy! No Time for Networking?
Every Hour You Network Has an Opportunity Cost
Evaluate Your Business Networking Group
Save Time Networking: Focus on Your Gold Dust

netHQCopyright © 2015 – 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 Networking 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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commentSubscribe 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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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Networking Events: 10 Quick Tips

Filed under: Networking Tip — Larry James @ 8:30 am
Tags: , ,

Allison, Guest Author

Networking events are a great way for you to meet other professionals in your area, but it can be exhausting to keep up with a busy calendar, and make the most out of each event. And, for those who are more introverted, meeting a lot of new people at one time can seem daunting.

10QuickTipsWhether you’re a networking pro or need a little coaxing when it comes to putting yourself out there, these 10 quick tips will help you master networking events!

1. Clear your mind before entering the event. ~ Many networking events take place in the early evening, after you’ve most likely had a long, arduous day at work. Be sure to check your negative energy at the door, or others might sense it! Even if you feel so tired you wish you could back out, go in with an open mind. Focus your mind on the task ahead of you – meeting new people and establishing relationships.

If you can, try to give yourself a bit of alone time prior to the event to re-charge whether this is listening to your favorite music driving over, or stopping for a quick coffee prior to the event and enjoying it while checking out some blog posts or recent news from the day.

2. Talk to people who are standing alone. ~ Ever feel a bit awkward at a networking event? Everyone has at one point or another! If you see someone standing alone, strike up a conversation. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to, plus you won’t have to worry about breaking up a group’s conversation by approaching multiple people mid-way through and introducing yourself.

3. Repeat your contact’s name. ~ While you’re speaking with someone, repeat their name back to them a few times during the conversation. It helps you to demonstrate that you’re paying attention to what your contact is saying, and you’ll remember names better that way. Two or three times per conversation should do the trick!

4. Act as a facilitator for others at the event. ~ Welcome others into your conversations by introducing the people you’ve spoken with to others. Try it by introducing each new person you meet to at least one other person, and soon you’ll know a lot more people! Also, by being the one who connects others, people will see you as resourceful.

5. Personalize your encounters. ~ The exchange of business cards is fairly standard at networking events, but you can make yourself more personable (and memorable) by writing your personal contact information on the back of your card and a quick note such as ‘Please be in touch!’Your new contacts are much more likely to reach out to you through your cell phone number or personal email address than they are a main company phone line.

6. Be selective about your events. ~ Choose networking events where you know you’ll have something in common with the other people attending. Many local networking events may not be industry-specific, so try to filter out the events that are most worth your time. Check out the WeddingWire World Tour schedule to see if we’ll be coming to a town near you, or be on the lookout for an email from us when we’ll be near you for a Mix & Mingle, Networking Night or Workshop!

7. Make the first move. ~ If you’ve been to a lot of networking events, you’ve noticed that attendees tend to polarize. Some people are extremely social and will spend the whole time proactively making conversations with others. The other types of people tend to sit alone, waiting for other to approach them. They’re often on their phones trying to look busy. Approach those people and make the first move! You’ll be helping them break the ice and begin a conversation. It’s great for your network, and it’s a kind deed you can do for others to ease their tension.

8. Be yourself. ~ Although you’re at a professional event, don’t be afraid to show some personality! It can be stressful and draining to keep up an overly-stiff façade while at networking events, and as a result it can make the whole ordeal much more unpleasant than it has to be. Honesty and authenticity are great traits, and they’ll shine through if you’re being yourself. Don’t worry about trying to keep your personal life separate (unless you want to!). Be yourself and you’ll make both friends and professional contacts.

9. Pull, don’t push. ~ The conversations you have with other wedding and event professionals is the whole reason to attend networking events. When you’re engaging in a conversation with another Pro, be sure to pull the conversation in a certain direction without pushing a topic. You can pull the conversation by asking questions about the other person and getting to know them. Don’t push the conversation by talking about yourself and forcing the topic.

10. Reward yourself. ~ If networking isn’t your thing, make it easier to on yourself by providing an incentive! If you meet your goal of attending an event and walking away with a few good connections, be sure to reward yourself afterward. Whether your reward is a weekend getaway or even just a nice dinner, give yourself a pat on the back for breaking out of your comfort zone!

Copyright © 2014 – Allison. Allison is a staff writer for WeddingWire.com‘s ProBlog.

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netHQLarry 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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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

8 Steps To Build Relationships After A Networking Event

Deborah Shane, Guest Author

Headed to a networking event? Keep these tips in mind…

We spend considerable time networking in person because we know it’s still the most important way to build relationships with colleagues, peers and potential new customers. We pick the events we want to go to and we prepare.

exchangingCardsFor bigger conferences, we spend even more time preparing for the sessions and events we want to attend, people we want to meet and build in time for random hook ups.

When you return from a conference you had been planning for, sorting it all out in an organized, timely process is the key to beginning the conversion from connection to relationship.

I talk a lot about the importance of blending in-person networking with social media. The importance of Integrating your personal marketing and branding activities to build reach and impact. I delivered this very content recently at XPO NYC, the largest B2B conference in the northeast.

There is the planning to go, being there and the follow up, probably the most important way to leverage your RON-return on networking.

There are three important things to consider after going to any in-person event but especially bigger conferences.

• Prioritize contacts
• Customize follow-up messages
• Timeliness

brightIDEAHere are eight steps for converting the information and connections into actionable relationships after a big conference.

1. Sort Through Your Cards And The People You Met

Hopefully, every card you got was a person you owned a moment with, or had a meaningful exchange with. I like to write a word or two or note on the card to remind me of what we exchanged.

2. Review All The Sessions You Attended

Take the program and review all the sessions you attended and what was presented. Add notes to the notes you actually took during the session while reviewing it.

3. Review All The Notes You Took

Go through all your notes and highlight the key ideas from the speakers and that you wrote down.

4. Review The Handouts And Information You Got

Take the time to review all the handouts, leave behinds, worksheets, post cards you took home with you. Take advantage of any incentives offered to you by the speakers and conference presenters.

5. Prioritize And Define Who To Follow Up With And Why

Although we gather cards at these events, prioritizing the warm connections and ones that make the most sense to follow up on should be followed up on first. Qualify why, and be specific about what you will follow up with them about.

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Click cover for info

6. Draft A Customized Follow-Up Letter To Each Group

Divide your connections into groups and customize a follow-up letter to them, that makes sense and is appropriate for why you should continue. Being thoughtful about this to them will make a big difference.

7. Invite Them To follow Up On Social Media

This is the bridge that can help you get into people’s communities, stream, conversations and get you started in building commonality. Use LinkedIn as a starting point, add Twitter and then if appropriate Facebook. Comment on their blog, or invite them to yours.

8. Create A 30-Day Follow-Up Plan

For the contacts you make you want to develop, make a 30-day plan for each person, or the group of contacts that you met. Be consistent, and interact as regularly as possible. Show up, be a part of and join.

Relationships don’t happen in a week!

These eight steps should be started and worked through immediately. The timeliness of follow-up is critical. You will want to get back to people while you are both fresh in each other’s minds.

DeborahCopyright © 2013 – Deborah Shane. Deborah Shane was named a Top 100 Small Business Champion for 2012 and Top 100 Small Business Podcast 2013 by SmallBizTrends.com! She is the Author of Career Transition-make the shift, a personal branding strategist, social media catalyst, writer and speaker. She hosts a weekly blog and a small business radio podcast with over 240k downloads. Deborah’s articles are featured on and regularly quoted in SmallBizTrends.com, Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, PersonalBrandingBlog.com and Monster. Engage with her @DeborahShane and visit her at DeborahShane.com.

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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.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Breakfast or Lunch? Getting the Greatest Bang for Your Buck!

Hmmm. Me thinks that is the wrong question!

Why?

Well, where do I begin? There are actually three times to network in groups. Breakfast, lunch and evening meetings. Each has it’s own unique benefits. Some have speakers and others offer people the chance to eat and circulate without any formal meeting. Many have a meeting charge. Most guests can usually attend one meeting without having to join the group.

Some will have a special time for members to offer a 30-second connection. Larger groups my have one member give a brief 10-minute presentation plus a speaker. Do your best to find a group that allow you to utilize your time optimally. Find a group that is vibrant and is actively growing. Check out these groups to find out if you’re compatible with the individual members and their professions.

One of the toughest things to decide is which networking group to align yourself and your business with. I personally prefer a group that has attendance requirements. The ones that do usually have more consistent attendance from their members. In addition to going to the meetings, call some of the other member businesses and ask if the group has been a source of good clients and business leads. Call the group’s leaders. Ask other members what groups they attend and ask if they will invite you as a guest so that you can find out more about the group.

It pays to check the group you are interested in very thoroughly. I look for people who are willing to brainstorm about ideas that have helped their business to grow vs. idle chitchat. I call this “collaborative sharing.” Be the one to nurture an emerging idea. I like to develop relationships with people who are big thinkers and to be able to bounce new business ideas off them. Beware of groups whose members are usually just salespeople trying to sell their stuff to other salespeople.

breakfast_networking_cartoonAre you a morning person? To me, the bacon and eggs crowd seem to be some of the most serious networkers. They have to make a special effort to get up and get going early in the morning. This plays a big part in getting your morning off to a great start. Meeting someone for coffee or breakfast at eight o’clock in the morning is a wonderful way to accomplish your relationship-building goals while saving time and money. Breakfast is rapidly becoming the new lunch.

The constant for all groups is that the participants will have the chance to talk to each other and begin to build business relationships that can grow and last. Morning meetings are sometimes problematic. How many times have those meetings with clients gotten rescheduled, or worst – forgotten? Always call to confirm to avoid any embarrassing miscommunications. Many people are more mentally alert and most creative before noon. If you don’t have time or the budget for a high-end lunch, then breakfast may be the best way to build relationships. Members can start their business day uninterrupted.

The lunch bunch were going to eat lunch anyway so it might as well be with other business professionals with the chance to mix, mingle and talk. In Robin Jay’s award-winning book, “The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships Between 12 and 2″ she says, “There is nothing as effective as breaking bread for getting to know a client, to learn more about their business, understand their needs, and find better ways to help them achieve their goals. Something magical happens when you are in a social setting, sharing food.” Skip the alcohol at lunch. Keep your mind clear.

People often will let their guard down and open up during a relaxed lunch group. “A 1:00 p.m. appointment allows you and your guest to complete a full morning’s work and be ready for a more relaxed meal,” advises Beverly Langford in her book, “The Etiquette Edge.”

Evening – Most evening meetings offer a more relaxed, casual atmosphere while meeting other businesses. Some offer hor d’ourves and a cash bar. 99% of my clients have 9 to 5 p.m. day jobs. That means they’re looking for my services after work and only available to work with me in the evenings. So, for me – unless I don’t already have an appointment with a new client – mornings or lunches are best.

“Choose only foods that are easy to eat, like grapes or crackers – nothing messy. Steer clear of the chewy, dripping, garlic-laced, hard-to-eat items at the hors d’oeuvres table,” suggest Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon in their book “Make Your Contacts Count.” Don’t forget to take small bites. When you will be socializing and making frequent introductions, it’s important not to talk with your mouth full or make others wait for you to swallow before you can speak.

Regardless of which group you choose to attend, you are encouraged to bring your business cards and brochure for distribution to the group. You will have an opportunity to network, ask questions, and conduct one-to-one meeting before and after the meetings. You may want to try all three to see which group serves you the best and where you can find friendly and supportive people to assist. Look for a creative melting pot of friendly, ambitious people.

Each category of networkers have advantages and disadvantages. The breakfast and lunch groups don’t interfere with the working day. Some groups are made up of one representative from each type of profession to eliminate competition within the group. I never worried about the competition. I focused on making myself and my business “remarkable!” Some people waste a lot of energy being concerned about their competitors rather than using that energy in a more productive way to market themselves and their business.

Look for a group whose members make you feel welcome and take the time to greet you rather than hang with everyone they already know. All offer business networking opportunities and you must follow the “collaborative etiquette of networking.

My friend, Larry Winget, in his book, “It’s Called WORK for a Reason: Your Success Is Your Own Damn Fault” says, “Get involved. Get known. Go to charity events, civic events, wine tastings, art fairs, church, whatever. Be around people. Not with a handful of business cards to pass out. Don’t even go with the idea of getting more business. Instead go there and get involved in the event. Be the kind of person others admire, can count on, trust, and enjoy spending time with. After you have developed that reputation, people will start to ask you what you do and you will be amazed at how many people will want to work with you.”

The popularity of networking meetings and events continues to grow as businesses find them to be a very cost-effective tool for increasing sales or simply building relationships with others. Schmooze like there’s no tomorrow, befriend everyone. Remember to participate fully. Don’t expect immediate results. Business does not always come in the first contact or meeting. Be consistent for best results. I belonged to one networking group for almost a year before I started receiving referrals. This type of business comes with trust and trust can take some time to develop.

And one final though: Remember, networking is about cultivating long-term relationships. If you approach someone under the guise of making a new friend, while your hidden agenda is really pure business exploitation with no genuine interest in the relationship or the person beyond what they can do for your bank account… that relationship will never end well. Be a giver! The return on your investment is exponential.

Read, “The Networking Collaborative” and “Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .

netHQ

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! 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
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.

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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Friday, October 16, 2009

Focus! Meet “New” People!

When you arrive at a networking event, avoid gravitating to people you know. You should initially acknowledge the host and then immediately find someone new to introduce yourself to. Networking is about making new connections too. This will help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you came.

When attending small business networking events, one might think that they should go around and talk to as many people as time allows. Traditional business advice says that you should get your business information in as many hands as possible. Unfortunately, that advice is misguided, because the goal of networking is to build meaningful relationships which lead to trust. You cannot build trust in relationships and friendship with others if your only goal is to talk about yourself and pass out business cards.

Sit with someone you do not know. Initiate conversation with someone who is standing by themselves. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to them and, as a result, will many times open up with valuable information.

SmileMy Facebook friend, Greg S. Reid, once said, “Be the ‘first’ to say hello – your smile and openness may inspire them to do the same.” A sincere smile can light up the room!

Networking is an opportunity to build new, meaningful relationships and to build rapport. It’s about people.

The best business networking groups operate as exchanges of business information, ideas, and support. The most important skill for effective business networking is listening; focusing on how you can help the person you are listening to rather than on how he or she can help you is the first step to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship.

Did you know that the most important thing in listening is to “hear” what “Isn’t being said?” Listen to the details of what your new “friend” requires. How can you help? Ask questions! The person who is asking the questions is in control of the conversation. Good networking questions are engaging and thought-provoking. They help you connect with people at a much deeper level.

The relationship comes first. Rather than boring a new contact with information all about yourself, spend your time asking them questions. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn! Get to know your new friend as a person. BE the spark in your new friendship!

Information is more willingly received if it is requested. Design some of your questions to them that will make them curious about asking questions of you.

Always keep one hand free to allow yourself to shake hands with people. This means that you shouldn’t eat and drink at the same time. Remember, you are there to network, not to stuff your face and miss out on opportunity. Hold your cold drink in your left hand if you are right-handed. This keeps the handshake from being a “cold shake.”

“You may find the relationships you form with your referral sources even more important than the dollars your new customers bring you.” – Ivan Misner, BNI’s Founder & Chairman

NOTE: To order a copy of Ivan’s newest book, “Network Like a Pro” click here!

First, build the relationship. Get to know a couple of people a little bit better at each event. This often leads to us getting together one-on-one later to really begin to build the relationship. Second, focus on finding 2 or 3 people to help. This can take many forms. You might be able to refer them to someone else at the same meeting.

Immediately after the event – preferably the next day – send a handwritten note to the people you met only if they are someone you would like to stay in contact with. Mention something from your conversation that will help them remember you and express your interest in keeping in contact. Always include a business card in your note.

People do business with and refer people to those that they know and trust. People don’t like to be talked at or sold to. While some may be polite and listen to your detailed advertising tirades, the likelihood of a follow-up is practically nonexistent.

Networking is about building relationships in a strong network; it is not about collecting business cards or making sales presentations. Therefore the best networking tips to remember are to be authentic, be professional, and be selfless.

So. . . at your next networking event, focus on meeting new people and building new relationships. Remember to s-m-i-l-e!

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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 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.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Name Tag Tip

When you attend a networking event, be sure you bring your own name tag. Buy a name tag plastic holder at an office supply store and place your business card in it. Or prepare a name tag in your computer and make it say what you want it to say.

Some events provide blank name tags. Write your name and your business for all to see.

Always place your name tag on the right side of your clothing. That way, as you shake hands, the line of your arm draws the other person’s attention directly to the name tag.

REPEAT: Name tags only help if you wear the name tag on the right side so that your eye will easily travel to it as you make the initial handshake.

When you meet someone new, call them by their name right away. This will assist you in remembering their name.

Larry’s NOTE:  Need a “last-minute” name tag for you networking meeting?  Fill out a FREE Designers template for a temporary name tag or badge insert at:  http://www.layoutserver.nl/

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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

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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.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Attending A Networking Event

Filed under: Networking — Larry James @ 12:01 am
Tags: , ,

Ivan Misner, Guest Author

As every good networker knows, one of the fastest ways to grow your business quickly and successfully is through word-of-mouth marketing. That’s the fundamental reason networkers attend networking events. And people who have made a science of systematic networking keep six essentials in mind. Each time they attend an event, they have 1. a purpose, 2. a goal and 3. a plan, and they make sure to 4. execute the plan, 5. evaluate their efforts and 6. follow up on all contacts.

NOTE: To order a copy of Ivan’s newest book, “Network Like a Pro” click here!

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Copyright © 2009 – Ivan Misner. Reprinted with permission. Called the father of modern networking, Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder of BNI and the senior partner for the Referral Institute. He has written nine books, including his recently released New York Times best seller, Truth or Delusion? Busting Networking’s Biggest Myths. Adapted from the article, “Attending Networking Events.”

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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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