Knowing how to network effectively is one of the best ways to move your career forward. Making connections and being timely with thoughtful follow-through will prove to be well worth your time and effort. After experiencing the benefits of networking, you will no longer approach networking events with dread. Instead, you will be enthusiastic about the opportunity to meet new people and build meaningful relationships. I am sharing a few of my effective networking tips below…
1. Have the right attitude – Enter the networking event confidence and a positive attitude. Doing a quick mirror check and finishing a breath mint before walking through the door will also give you an added boost of confidence.
2. Savvy Networkers Set Goals – Decide in advance that you will meet three new contacts and reconnect with established clients. Make it a point to greet the host upon your arrival and take a quick glance around the room to look for people you do not yet know. A new client is only a handshake away.
3. Careful With the Buffet – I have said it before but it is worth repeating, “You are not there to eat!” Have a quick snack before you arrive so you won’t be tempted to overindulge. Hold your drink or plate in your left hand, but not both. Be prepared with your right hand to offer a friendly and firm greeting.
4. “On the right to follow the line of sight.” – Placing your nametag on the right side is the most desirable location. It allows the other person to easily glance at your name for a quick refresher.
5. Always Rise to the Occasion – Both men and women stand up for all introductions. Standing up shows respect for the other person and sends the message that you are interested in what they have to say. Do not worry if you neighbor does not stand up, it is not a contest and you are not trying to make them feel uncomfortable. If someone does not stand up, it is obvious he or she does not know and will not feel uncomfortable regardless.
6. Introduce Yourself with Your First and Last Name– Clearly state your first and last name as you extend your hand for a handshake. Saying only your first name devalues your professionalism. Forget someone’s name? This has happened to all of us. Simply say, “I am sorry, I have just gone blank. Would you please remind me of your name?” This is a much better option than just pretending to remember who he or she is with an awkward look on your face.
7. Speaking of Introductions… When making an introduction, always mention the client’s name first. A client takes precedence over a member of your own company, including the CEO.
8. Have conversation points prepared – The art of small talk can be especially beneficial in growing business relationships. Have a few questions ready so you will be ready to engage your next client. Steer clear of the not-so-safe topics including money, politics, religion, divorce and gossip.
9. Hand Out Business Cards with Discretion – Refrain from handing out business cards in the same manner you would offer free movie theatre tickets. Concentrate on making a favorable impression and rely on a business card for reinforcement.
10. Follow-up With New Contacts – A brief, handwritten note letting your new contact know how much you enjoyed meeting him or her is a gesture that will be appreciated and remembered well into the future. It is also a good opportunity to suggest a follow up meeting. An email is fine but a handwritten note is much more memorable. Why not do both?