So….many people today feel that networking is the best way to find business opportunities.
But what is business networking anyway? Well based on the book, Oxford Dictionary, the word is defined as:
“Network (noun) 1 An arrangement of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines… 2 A group or system of interconnected people or things… (verb) 1 Connect or operate with a network… 2 (often as noun networking) Interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.
…But it’s more than showing up and shaking hands; it’s about being prepared and proactive. Business networking offers a way to reach decision-makers which might otherwise be very difficult to engage with using conventional advertising methods. In addition, business networking brings with it the added advantage of recommendation and personal introduction, which are always very helpful for developing business opportunities.
So how can you make an impression on an individual at a networking event in a short amount of time?
- Make a Good First Impression.
- Do Your Research.
- Know Their Industry.
- Know Current News
- Have Something Interesting to Say About It.
- Keep the Conversation Going – Instead of making generic statements -keep things interesting and lead from one subject to another -the more you practice this, the better you become at it.
Knowledge is power – in networking, too! Research the people and companies present at the networking events you attend, read books about subjects you don’t know, and never stop learning –to help strengthen your networking skills, and yourself!
Did you know that October is National Book Month? Books are a wealth of information and used to be the only real resource we had to familiarize ourselves with topics and businesses. Now we have Google and other search engines that actually make finding out information about businesses or keynote speakers easy and fast. Well even if you are a bit of a wall flower, it is simple to Google 2 or 3 factoids or create a few soundbites based on what you learned. This will allow you to start a conversation, which could lead to an opportunity that may not have existed if you came in cold.
So with that in mind, here is a short list of efforts you can make to make your networking …work for you!
- Networking is a contact sport…it is like the lottery, you have to play to win. So target the networking events that will benefit your networking goals and make sure you are mentally there as well.
- Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking meetings as you can’t meet everyone. So be prepared with the short list of people you want to connect with and connect.
- Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.
- Have an elevator speech prepared describing yourself decisively and positively as you may only have a few minutes in the initial exchange.
- Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
- Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that, and your referrals will grow.
- Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.
- Hold volunteer positions in organizations. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.
So stop thinking there are perks to being a wallflower and get out there and start building those important relationships today… you never know where they might lead.
Mother, May I works with college students and business executives to make networking a productive experience. Let us know how we can help you get the most out of your next networking opportunity.
“It’s the people we hardly know, and not our closest friends, who will improve our lives most dramatically”
― Meg Jay
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Lisa and Demetria
Co-Founders Mother, May I – Etiquette Experts