So you’ve decided to attend a local professional group meeting to do some networking. Good for you … but you’ll need to work the room like a pro – with focus, finesse and flexibility. Here are 10 simple Best Practices to increase your skills … and results.
#1. Know why you’re there. Precisely define your specific networking objective or objectives for that event. What kinds of information are you seeking? What types of people do you want to meet? What will you say to them when you do?
#2. Get there early and stay late. Make it the most important thing you’ll do that day.
#3. Let your name tag help you network. Put it high on your right lapel or right side and don’t put it where you don’t want people to look.
#4. Smile so you look friendly and sincere. A good smile says, “I’m someone you’d like to meet.” And smile with your eyes, too.
#5. Offer a firm and energetic, but comfortable, hand shake. Don’t squeeze too hard or shake too long.
#6. Always talk to strangers … actually, only talk to strangers. Don’t spend much time chatting with people you already know, because the more strangers you meet – the greater the chances you’ll accomplish your networking information objectives. You can follow up with people you already know after the event.
#7. Sit smart. Don’t sit too early because you can’t choose who sits with you. Sit surrounded by strangers. It’s called net-work, not net-sit.
#8. Don’t offer your business card up front. Wait until you have a reason at the end of a brief conversation. Let the other people ask for yours first or ask if you can give them your card.
#9. Ask good questions. While casual chitchat is harmless and easy, it takes time away from finding out about other people, what they do, if they can help you OR if you can help them. If you only have three minutes to engage with someone new, how do you want to spend the time?
#10. Talk less and listen more. You need to gather data to begin answering the question “Is this person someone I want to get to know better, someone who I can help … OR who can help me?”
These 10 simple networking Best Practices can increase your skills and results. And watch how they differentiate you in a very positive way from the lame amateurs who are working the same room.