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Communicating At Networking Events

Finding networking events such as clubs, business associations, exhibitions or conferences can be quite easy. But, what do you do once you get there? What do you say? How do you Act?

Networking events tend to have four different types of people in attendance. Learn to spot these people and deal with them accordingly.

The Newbie -- stands alone appearing to be busy and avoids actually talking to anyone. You should welcome and mentor the newbie introducing them around.

The Amateur -- is an aggressive, annoying "know-it-all" who follows people around talking incessantly offering unwanted advice. You should tactfully avoid the amateur as hanging with him could ruin your reputation.

The Pro -- wants something for nothing and generally only calls when he needs something. He milks the life out of any newbie in site. You should avoid contact with the pro and protect newbies from him.

The Networker -- is a team player who helps newbies, constantly pays attention looking for new opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences. You should work on building quality, mutually beneficial relationships with other networkers.

At networking events learn to walk up to just about anyone and engage in small talk. At the same time be realistic about who you approach. When you attend an event featuring a high profile individual, target others who are in attendance, or someone who works directly with the speaker.

Use small talk to lead you into discussing other things. Keep in mind that most people's favorite subject is themselves. Your comment about the weather or the food can easily be followed by, "So, what do you do?" People love to be thought of as an "expert" and give advice to others so use this to your advantage. Clearly identify whom you are speaking with, what he is interested and how your relationship could be mutually beneficial.

General Networking Rules

  • Listen 80% and talk 20%
  • Exchange business cards only when appropriate
  • Take pride in your appearance
  • Dress appropriately
  • Carry cards with you all times
  • Volunteer your services
  • Never make promises you cannot keep
  • Be outgoing and conversational
  • Find your common ground and build upon it
  • Remember and call people by name
  • Follow up an invitation to lunch or coffee
  • Become known as an expert in your industry
  • Keep a database of contact information

Telephone Networking

  • Tell the person who you are briefly, state why you're calling and ask if it is a good time to talk
  • Don't call the same person all the time

Online Networking Events

  • Keep content of messages on track and focused
  • Write simply and concisely
  • Target a clearly defined group of participants
  • Keep messages brief

At Networking Events

  • Introduce yourself and offer a business card
  • Express an interest in the conversation
  • Keep initial comments limited
  • Work your way in over a number of events
  • Welcome all newbies and introduce them around
  • Watch your manners and language
  • Keep drinking to a minimum

Networking No No's

  • Collecting as many business cards as possible
  • Using people
  • Being dishonest about your motives or intentions
  • Name dropping implying connections you don't have
  • Talking too much or too little
  • Acting fake, obnoxious, or annoying

Networking is an ongoing activity.
Create good habits and frequently keep in touch with the contacts you make. Don't let more than 60-90 days go by without some sort of contact.

  • Send holiday greeting cards with a personal note
  • Send thank-you and follow-up notes to acknowledge anyone who has been helpful to you or gave you a lead or referral, whether it worked out or not.

Your ultimate goal should be to have quality conversations that build long lasting mutually beneficial relationships. Take networking seriously. Quality networking connections will bring you leads and open doors that may otherwise not be available to you.

-Patricia Rorabaugh
Virtual Technocrats LLC - Business & Technology Consultants. Download our FREE Business Planning eBook at www.virtualtechnocrats.com
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