NETWORKING 101 TIPS Networking 101 – Tips 1. Practice Positive Networking It’s a brilliantly simple concept that takes all the pressure off that old-fashioned style of hard-sales networking. Networking is not all about you; it’s discovering what you can do for someone else. Meet Ned (or Nelly). Ned is an Alota Networker and darter, meaning a person
who takes your business card, looks at it, decides you aren’t important enough to talk to and drops you like a hot potato. While talking to you, his eyes are darting around the room looking for his next victim. Ask him what he does and he gives you his ‘infomercial’. The next day he sends you the “Dreaded Drive-by”, a form email stating how great it was to meet you and his sales pitch. Ned’s goal is to find people who can help HIM. Sorry Ned, but you’ve got it all wrong. Positive Networking is not all about you. It’s about discovering what you can do for someone else. While there is a place for transactional networking, the majority of networking opportunities are not about closing a sale but opening a relationship. Because, people do business with people they know and trust. 2. Opportunity is Everywhere The opportunity to build your network can come at any time, in any situation. It’s the difference between saying nothing and being the one to start a conversation – in the elevator, in the registration lineup or your early morning workout. Opportunities reveal themselves when you start a conversation.
The biggest challenge at a networking event is often the opening line -- what to say to a stranger that doesn’t sound forced or awkward. Solution: Attach one phrase to your nametags: "Ask me about..." and then fill in whatever topic you want to talk about (could be about your kids or a movie you saw, try not to make it about your business but more of a topic that everyone can discuss). All you have to do is ask them about their topic and you can listen and add in. Another suggestion is to ask them about what they do? Where they work? etc. 3. Avoid Archeological Digs Before entering a networking event put your business cards in your jacket pocket. Women: no pockets? Then put them in an easy-to-access place in your purse. Always have at least 28 cards with you. An important rule of thumb: always have business cards on you everywhere you go. You never know when you might need them. 4. Do It Right Away The best time to exchange business cards is when you first meet. Make it a natural part of your introduction so there’s none of the anxiety of wondering when you should do the exchange. If you don’t receive a card back (which will happen more often than you think), simply ask for one. While it seems that tips about bringing business cards to a networking event may be obvious, the truth is… • Half the people you meet at events don’t bring cards • They don’t bring enough of them • When they bring them, they don’t give them out, and • When you give them a card they don’t give you one in return
Relax, don’t make a big deal about giving out your business card. Simply make it a part of your graceful introduction. It’s a way for people to remember your name. Now, you’ve just done something nice for someone else. 5. RX for Going Solo Here’s a prescription for when you arrive at an event and don’t see anyone you know – just a sea of croaking frogs and a lurking toad or two. Don’t leap into the room. Stop and take a deep breath. If you relax and take the time you will likely see someone standing alone who you can talk to. Make a beeline to them. If you see no one, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone. Go up to some new people and introduce yourself. That’s why you’re here. 6. Do More than Breeze Through If there’s a trade show, visit it. Many people simply do a quick in and out. Instead, plan to meet three new people and learn three new things while there. 7. Your 21-Second Tribal Introduction When someone asks you “so what do you do” (pretty much guaranteed that’s going to happen non-stop at networking events) have a compelling Tribal Introduction. It’s a short, interesting answer that begs another question. This is not a sales pitch. It’s the best way to brand yourself and your organization. You only get one chance to make that first impression.
Note: Does your significant other have a Tribal Introduction? “I’m here with my wife Jane” or “I’m Jack’s wife” simply won’t do. When tag-teammates don’t work in the business world they may be uneasy about introducing themselves. Encourage them to come up with their own personal Tribal Introduction. “I’m Jane, John’s wife. John and I have 3 boys and I’m very active in the community’s Science for Kids program.” Then add something to keep the conversation going… “This is my first time in Wilmington. And, you?” 8. Nametags Work – Wear Yours They simplify the whole name thing and help encourage conversations. 9. Shorten a Hanging Nametag If you are wearing a nametag on a string, shorten the string so people aren’t navel gazing as they lean forward to read your nametag. If the hanging nametag has a pocket, stash some spare business cards in there for easy access. 10. Double Sided At workshops and breakout sessions that utilize tent name cards, write your name on both sides of the name card and use large print. At tables during meals, if there are preprinted name cards, turn your around. It helps others remember your name. Continued on page 10.
www.ncccc.com I June 2014 I 9