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The Great Adventure – Networking

DSC_0149Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to share with local students a really short and spirited presentation on networking.  My talk covered what is networking, how does one do it and then a quick easy code word so the students could implement the talk during a career fair.

To begin, Networking what is it?  According to the Google dictionary Networking is the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.

How does one do it?  When at an event, start with existing connections (it will be less scary). Locate who you want to talk to, and have a short elevator pitch ready if necessary (the art of small talk is king here to get the conversation rolling)!!  Remember networking is about focusing on the person you are talking to its not about YOU!  Listen to learn how you may be of service to the person you are connecting with.  If you feel a connection has been made ask for their business card and then remember to follow up.

My code word for the day was B-E-S-T!

B – Breathe, easier said then done.  When you breathe it relaxes you internally and allows you to think clearly.  Remember the number 7.  Breath in for a 7 count, hold for a 7 count and breathe out for a 7 count.  repeat once or twice.  When we get tense, we have a tendency to freeze up.  Walking around an event remember to breath and ask yourself am I breathing.

E-Engage, a big key at networking events is to actually meet people and not hang along the wall or as one of my friend’s shared, “I would just take one spin through a room see no one I know and leave.”  You have a unique opportunity every time you attend a networking event.  I’d like you to think of it as an adventure.  Engage at them it doesn’t hurt and it will definitely build your character.  In my direct sales days we called it stepping out of your “comfort zone”.  Set your thoughts on positive encounters.

S-Smile, remember (this is not to scare you) but you have only minutes, even seconds for someone to have a first impression of you.  So greet everyone you meet with a smile, firm handshake and look them in the eye.  Positive energy is a state of mind.  Remember if you are more upbeat its easier to create a positive aura about you versus folks who are more low key or not as excitable.

T-Trust, trust yourself, you know yourself better than anyone else.  Do your BEST to let the world see your positive attributes and why they need you!! Ask open ended questions. LISTEN, do not interrupt or be thinking of something else to say.  Be more interested then interesting.  Follow up with those company you liked best within 48 hours.  I like handwritten notes these days since no one seems to do them.

During my talk we whipped through the above points in 15 minutes it was fast and furious.  So in recapping our code word for the day B-E-S-T.  Breathe, Engage, Smile, Trust!

Overall, before any networking event remember to set your intention for the day?  What do you want to accomplish during the networking time? If we set intentions you are more likely to follow through during the event and afterwards.

Remember to do your B-E-S-T today and always!

Holiday Networking Good Advice For Now and Beyond!

It’s that time of the year when more parties and After 5 events can make you sweat or make you smile with glee at the opportunity to meet old and new business friends.  When business networking it is good to have a plan of action for the evening when attending the many business functions over  the next weeks and into the New Year!

Here is a short summary of tips that I put together.  Happy networking, smile, relax, and have a good time connecting:

When you arrive at your event avoid gravitating to the people you know.  Say hi to those in charge and then find someone new to introduce yourself to.  This will help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you came.  Also, survey the room and check out the high-traffic areas such as the main entrance, the bar, or near the food.

Stop selling and start listening!  When you meet someone for the first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them.  Don’t sell them anything.  Rather, begin to establish a relationship.  My experience has been I ask lots of questions to strangers and then have them walk away with out  ever finding out anything about me.  It makes me chuckle since I believe that in itself is a key indicator of your true potential to connect with someone.

Keep your business cards handy so they are easy to access and in good condition.  Wear your name tag on the right side so when you shake hands your name tag is visible to view.  Yes, wear a name tag not everyone knows who you are or who you represent.  When you receive a card take time to write a note to yourself, especially where you met the person.  If you do it while chatting with the person it will convey a sense of personal connection.

During the course of your conversation, use the other person’s name two or three times.  People love to hear their own name and it will help you remember their name when the discussion is over.  If you have a good memory congrats.  If you don’t start by telling yourself I am great with names, I am great with names and practice, practice, practice remembering people’s names!!

After your new connection has shared something with you, ask them another question about what they just said.  This alerts the person that you really are paying attention to them.

I love this one – initiate conversation with someone who is standing by themselves.  As a high “I” on the DISC scale this is something I do on a regular basis.  The person will be happy to have someone to talk to them and as a result will many times open up with valuable information.  I have found that others tend to gravitate over and soon there is a crowd.  As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each new person you meet to at least one other person.

Follow up is the key to a successful networking night.  Statistics say, “When you meet someone for the first time, you have just 48 hours to follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting you.”  Having your notes on the their business card helps to personal the follow up.

A Holiday networking event and for that matter any networking event is not a time to see how many business cards you can acquire.  Rather, it is a time to develop a few relationships that may have potential to blossom for both parties who made a connection.


Relationships are Key to Growth

Wow, it has been a long time since I’ve sent a word or two out regarding building your business and building success for yourself.

During the Summer of 2009 I received the opportunity to join the nonprofit world and take over as the Director of Development and Marketing for Interfaith Senior Programs in Waukesha County.  The experience has been fantastic.  I realized I have the tools and skills to move forward in this new venture.  But most important I am willing to learn new skill sets, and new information to build our agency.

Relationships if you want to be successful anywhere in life it is about building relationships, connecting with people from all walks and life and being genuinely interested in what they do.  Amazing when I looked in the dictionary the key words listed under relate; establish relation between, connection between things, kindred and a word I don’t know consanguinity.

Taking ownership where you work or your own business focuses you on building relationships with others.  I attended a very interesting networking training at the beginning of the year.  The speaker shared that when attending a networking event it is not what you can get that matters, but what you can give.  Talk about seeing networking in a whole new light.

“Meet ‘n Greet” weekly to learn more about a new connection or rekindle an old connection. How can you give to others will in the long run return to you in some shape or form. 

Who can you build relationship with today?

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