Business networking helps your business to be known in the community and yes, it can be quite intimidating to go networking, but even wallflowers can bloom at these events by following these etiquette tips.
Business networking definition:
The identification and the building of relationships for the purpose of sharing information, opportunity and resources.
So if networking is for building relationships the biggest NOT TO DO is selling – this is not the place for making a sales pitch. This is the place for getting to know people and their businesses and start building a relationship.
Do you just go to networking events because they are nearby or you got an invitation or do you select which events you want to attend? To get the most out of networking it is important to choose your events carefully and strategically and manage your time around the events you go to.
Never go to an event where you don’t have an agenda, be prepared. What are your goals for attending the event? Who do you need to connect with to cultivate and build a relationship with that would help facilitate, add value, bring specific subject matter expertise to your business
- Who will be there?
- How long is the event?
- Congregate and engage
- Make a Great 1st Impression
- Meet and greet people professionally
- Make eye contact
- Smile, shake hands and say hello.
- Introduce yourself with your first and last name (giving only your first name comes across as nervous and unsophisticated)
- Repeat their name
- Your focus should be always on the other person
- No matter whom you’re speaking with, show genuine interest
- Ask questions, listen to the answers and offer value back
- Stay friendly, helpful, and sober
Don’t be a Wallflower
- Approach people standing on their own, groups of three or larger.
- When approaching a group of two you may be interrupting a private conversation and it could become awkward or uncomfortable.
- Networking is not the time to catch up with friends. Say hello to those you know.
Make it a point to spend most of your time meeting new people and making new contacts.
- Make sure to ask open ended questions that are genuine and appropriate for the situation.
- Give your undivided attention while networking
- Actively listen while networking, don’t check your phone.
- Ask for recommendations of future networking events and local places to experience.
- Don’t ask “So what do you do?” as a conversation starter. Instead ask: “what brought you to this particular networking event”, or “may I join you”?”
- Don’t out talk or talk over anyone while networking.
- I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to networking events and people don’t have any business cards at all, what a wasted opportunity.
- A handwritten piece of paper with your business name, your name, your phone # and your website is 100% better than showing up without a business card.
- Always, always bring your business cards. They are your most effective networking tool.
- Always wait to be asked, before handing out your business card.
- Your business card should be crisp, clean and a direct extension of you.
- The Japanese view the business card as an extension of their person, and writing on the card is defacing it and devaluing them.
In the American business culture, however, notes are often written on business cards when networking to make it easier to keep track of information you want later include in your database.
- If you give a business card to someone and receive one in return, make sure you indicate when you might follow up – and then do it.
- Always ask for permission to add the person to your mailing list. If you forgot add a sentence to your follow up email and ask them.
- Business Card Etiquette Summary
- When receiving a business card, DO NOT put it away without looking at it.
- Read the card
- Say the name on card out loud
- Comment on the card
- Write notes on the card
- Use notes written on the card to follow-up ASAP. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to follow-up, and the less likely you are to be remembered. Following up quickly reflects on how you communicate professionally, and how you value their relationship.
- Do not use the card as a cleaning utensil
- Wear a name tag. If you don’t have a name tag you could even put a business card in a name tag holder.
- What is the proper place to wear your name tag?
A name tag should be worn in line of vision. This means on the right, close to the shoulder.
- When you extend your right arm to shake hands, the eye is automatically drawn to that area.
Asking for Help
- Be specific when asking for leads to expand your network.
For example, “I was wondering if you, or anyone you know, would be able to help me identify hiring managers in the IT telecommunications space. I appreciate your help.”
- If you receive a lead from someone send them a thank you note.
- Be sure to follow-up with new acquaintances.
- The key to successful networking is to show you are interested in the people you meet.
- For the most impact, send a personal handwritten note – by regular mail, within 24 to 48 hours – to every person you met and reconnected with at a networking opportunity is the best.
- Emailing and placing a personal telephone call is also appropriate, including writing or calling someone who has helped give you leads and referrals.
Be sure to fulfill any promises you made to people you’ve met.
- In addition make your connections via LinkedIn (personalize your outreach message) and feel confident that you’ve taken a smart, strategic approach to networking.
This article is a compilation of my own ideas and tips from various articles from the following websites:
- Alex Mandossian Google+ Hangout with George Fraser
Do you need help with networking?
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