For those of you who would rather have a root canal than to go to another networking session, I have some practical advice that might improve your attitude: networking is not a social gathering; it’s an effective way to advance your career. Therefore, approach network like you would any other phase of career with a commitment to excellence and improvement.
Here are a few tips on how to work a room
- Ask for business cards
- Don’t assume people will automatically hand you a business card- ask them for theirs and offer them yours
- Help connect people
- Connecting people together is a powerful method of creating value for them and yourself. If you just met someone needing a widget and then you meet a widget salesperson, introduce them- they will thank you for it even if you’re not interested in widgets.
- Be inclusive
- Draw others into the conversation. Bashful Betty or Shy Steven are usually hiding in the corner waiting to be drawn in; be the one to draw them in.
- Smile a lot
- Common sense says that smiling people are much more approachable than grumpy.
- Carry your drink in your left hand
- Shaking someone’s hand when yours is cold and wet is not a good first impression
- Be interested in people (read my first blog in this series)
Here are some can’t-do-without things
- Breath mints
- Few things are more of a put-off than conversing with Halitosis Harry.
- Carry plenty of up-to-date business cards
- I’m shocked when someone hands me an old business card or they don’t have any at all
- Write on business cards
- I often jot down key ideas on a person’s card so I can recall our discussion later
- Carry a Sharpie Marker
- Writing notes on glossy business cards is almost impossible with a regular pen
- Wear a name tag
- Most people have a hard time remember names, so help them remember yours by wearing a name tag, which should always be worn on the right.
After the session
- Follow up
- Linkedin –If you are not part of this social network opportunity, consider joining. It’s like Facebook for professionals and will assist in building relationships
- Short email
- Create Database
- Card Munch – This is an app on my phone that takes a photo of the card and catalogs it for me.
- Contact Information
- Where they work
- Where I met them
What other ideas have you learned to make networking easier and more valuable? I’d love to know!
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