It’s Not About the Free Food…Networking is the Key to Advancement

You know that networking is crucial to new business development. You understand that every business event is a chance to make new contacts and build your reputation.

Why, then, do you dread the networking breakfast, the power lunch schmoozing, and after hours mingling? Is it the bland chicken dinner? Have you never mastered the art of balancing your wine glass in one hand and a plate of hors d’oeuvres in the other while offering your card? Or is it just a simple case of business networking burnout?

It’s time to re-tool your approach and brush up on basic skills to make networking productive again.

Develop your Game Plan
Taking time to prepare will help you achieve more at the next event.

  • Define your objectives for attending. Is your goal to meet the influential speaker? Develop new contacts in your job search? Generate sales leads?
  • Practice your elevator pitch. Be able to describe who you are and what you do in 30 seconds or less.
  • If possible, review the guest list in advance and identify a few people you’d like to meet.
  • Make sure you have enough business cards.

Work the Room
The event is here, and you’re prepared and looking your best. Don’t be a wallflower, get out there and mingle.

  • Wear your name tag on the right side for a clear view of your name.
  • Introduce yourself and offer an effective handshake—firm, but not bone crushing. Offer a business card, and ask the other person for one.
  • Start the conversation with small talk. Your goal is to develop a personal relationship, and asking a few friendly questions will reveal common interests.
  • Don't stay too long in one place. Once you have exchanged cards and requested an opportunity to meet, excuse yourself and continue mingling.

Follow Up
The event is over but your work is not done.

  • Write notes on the backs of business cards you collect. Record anything you think may be useful in remembering each person.
  • Be sure to follow up with those you've met, share information, and offer to help in any way you can.
  • Give referrals whenever possible.

You can’t count on a gourmet meal at the next event, but if you follow this advice, you’re sure to get better results from your networking efforts.

“You can close more business in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." – Oscar Wilde

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