Networking

How to Find Events

  • Join Groups (you will get email updates about events going on)
  • Ask people that you network with which organizations they are a part of
  • Business Journal
  • Goal: Attend ____ networking events per month

Pre-Game Show

  • Research the organization/meeting quickly online (figure out who you need/want to speak to)
  • Practice a good elevator pitch for yourself. Especially for the question “What do you do?”
  • Be comfortable with a succinct description of what you are currently doing and what you want to do in the next five to ten years and eventually.
  • If there is a speaker, research the person online and talk to him/her before they speak (easier access).

Before You Leave the House

  • Business cards
  • Gum/Mints (no large chewing) - A roll of mints is a conversation starter. If you open the mints, people will approach you and ask for one. Rather than you having to introduce yourself to people, they will come up to you or if someone is nearby, you could easily offer him/her a mint.
  • Comfortable shoes
  • If you are going to be out all day – extra shirt (never know if you will spill something)
  • Pen (write on the back of business cards you collect)
  • A few dollars in case there is a cash bar and they charge you for your club soda with lime.

While There

  • Eye Contact – do not look around at other people
  • Eating/Drinking – Eat/Drink with your friends/family for enjoyment; networking events wet your lip and walk around with a drink if everyone is drinking but do not get even a little tipsy.
  • Do not drink anything with ice, condensation causes your hand to become wet and/or some moisture may get onto your clothing and stain your suit.
  • Realistic Goals
    • Introduce yourself to at least ____ new people.
    • Remember you are just meeting people with the goal of getting to know them better over coffee or lunch later (this isn’t the be all end all meeting)
  • Ask people questions; they like talking about themselves. Don’t abruptly jump to a topic that you want to discuss until you have acknowledged what contact has said.
  • The following question can be asked during the event or in a follow up email - What kind of clients/customers do you look for so I can refer my contacts looking for services/products like yours?
  • Feel like you are imposing? You aren’t just networking to see what you can get out of people, it is a two way street so you can bring value to them (even if it is through a contact within your network). You aren’t there with the What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) attitude, instead think of WIIFU – Us.
  • Networking isn’t about collecting cards; it is about relationship building and growing your contact base. You may not see the value of a contact initially so do not get discouraged.
  • Don’t know what to say? Comment on the food or the event or organization – Remember to be optimistic.
  • Don’t know anyone in the room? Walk in on your cell phone (just have a simple conversation) and scan the room. Hang up when you see someone or a group that you could approach.
  • What if nobody wants to talk to you? -- Good, you don’t want to talk to them.
  • What if you say the wrong thing or don’t connect with the person? -- Remember you control your personal professional success and this person has nothing to do with that. You probably won’t see this person again. Don’t dwell on it and move on to the next person.
  • If you are looking for something to say (and have the contact’s card) ask what exactly s/he does in his/her position.
  • Some say that Networking is 7% what you say, 38% voice, 55% body language

Following Up

  • Try to follow up within 24 hours
    • Email that thanks them for the great conversation, comments on something you discussed, follows up with anything that you mentioned you would do/send/research/follow up with, and call to action (cup of coffee, lunch, etc).
    • Check out their LinkedIn/Facebook profile before immediately becoming their “friend” or “connection” to make sure it is someone with whom you would want to associate.

Creating Your Business Card

  • Should have a multitude of touch points on it, a Website address, a Twitter feed name, LinkedIn URL or a Facebook page, email address not tied to current company (professional address).
  • Don’t put home address on card.
  • If you want any formatted like my examples, I can do 500 for $40 and you will have them within two weeks.

Business Card Etiquette

  • Do not write on a person’s business card in front of him/her.
  • Left side of your suit or pockets for contact cards and right side for yours. This prevents you from ever handing out the wrong card.
  • If you have multiple cards, create them with different paper stock (glossy finish, matte finish, etc) so you can feel the difference in your pocket without having to break networking conversation.