No matter how impressive your resume looks, getting ahead still depends a great deal on the truth of the saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts!” Making the right connections – networking – is a vital element in a person’s success. While some people are naturals at it, others often find it very difficult.
If rubbing elbows with people makes you feel awkward, here are some networking quick takes (tips) to help put you at ease when you have the chance to make some valuable business contacts.
Better business networking introduces you to new inspiration, ideas, innovation, problem solving, more referrals, a better top and probably bottom line, and business growth. The goal of networking should be to help other people.
• Never leave your home without a supply of business cards – and don’t be afraid to ask another person for his or her card! Don’t hand your cards out to people you’ve just met. We all know the person who shoves his/her business card down your throat immediately. It’s a turnoff, and not a very polite way to engage a new contact. Offer your business card after having a conversation – and before asking for the other person’s card first.
• Don’t stay on the sidelines at professional functions or networking events. Mingle!
• Carry something in your hands – a book, a brochure, a videotape, even a cup of coffee – to help you feel less self-conscious.
• NEVER “sell” while you are networking. It’s your goal to meet people, not close a business deal. I repeat, NEVER sell at a networking meeting or event. If someone corners you and you do have the opportunity to mention your business, always keep your pitch short – let it be catchy and to the point.
• Attend networking functions with a friend who can introduce you to others in attendance.
• Dress up for the occasion. “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” ~ Will Rogers
• Ask lots of questions. Don’t be shy. You’ll make a better impression than if you keep the entire conversation focused on yourself and how great you and your business are. Ask questions that are much deeper than, “What do you do?” Get to know them and attempt to find commonalities. Engage them in a real conversation. They will tend to remember those conversations best. Networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.
• Listen more than you talk! People love to talk about themselves, and you can’t learn about the other person if you’re doing all of the talking.
“Be unconventional. Use those pesky waiting lines at the DMV to strike up a conversation with someone else in line and see if it makes sense to mention your business. Other great places to start a dialogue include on an airplane or even at your local grocery store. Be friendly, outgoing and talk to the people around you. You never know what connection you might make for your business.” ~ Pamela Springer
• The effectiveness of face-to-face networking is hard to measure, so how do we know when we’ve succeeded? Never leave without a second date. In other words, if you don’t plan to meet with someone you just met after the meeting or event, you’re making a big mistake. Follow up is key!
• Follow up with a “nice to meet you” note, which is also a good opportunity to enclose another business card, brochure, sales piece, or even a newsletter if it will give someone a better idea of your talent and abilities. Since most people don’t do this, you will stand out from the crowd. No contact after the networking event = No chance for a business relationship!
• Keep a contact file. Organize the business cards you bring to your office so you can call on people from time to time as necessary. Focus on building trust. Stay accountable to yourself first and foremost and then to the people you build relationships with.
• Always arrive early; you’ll get the opportunity to have meaningful discussions and people will remember you before they meet 100 others at the event.
• Give business referrals or referral other vendors new contacts may find interesting. Your new contact will remember you for it. Ask them what they need. Then try to provide it by connecting them with someone you know and trust.
• Learn as much as you can about business networking. Read the networking articles in the articles menu of this blog. As of May 6, 2014, there are more than 430 articles about Networking available – all FREE! Read networking books. Watch others who are already successful to see how they network. As a matter of fact… you can never learn too much about networking!
“Don’t expect anything! The fact that you reached out and made contact with someone does not put them in your debt. No one is required to “pay you back.” Instead of approaching networking with the goal of gaining favors, try reaching out with curiosity. Contact interesting and relevant people and see what happens. Some of them will respond and some of them won’t. Learn about the people that follow up. Find out what makes them interesting and how you can help them – and don’t expect anything in return.” ~ James Clear
Networking can work to your advantage for many months – even years – to come. Who knows? A casual acquaintance you make today may be vital to your success tomorrow. If you wait to build your network when you need it, your desperation will show through. Just remember that when the opportunities arise, be yourself, show a genuine interest in the people you meet, and follow up new contacts to get to know them better.
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! ~ Larry James
Copyright © 2014 – 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!”
Subscribe to “Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James” and receive a fresh networking article or tip every 4th day by e-mail. Click on the “Email Subscription” link on the right under the “search” box. You can unsubscribe anytime!
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.
Add Larry James as a “friend” 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
Follow Larry’s “Authors & Speakers” BLOG at: http://www.AuthorsandSpeakerNetwork.wordpress.com/