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
    • Twitter
    • 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
    • Title
    • 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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