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After attending some business functions in the past couple of months, I see that few people are taking the opportunity to grow their contact base and network. I’ve even attended networking mixers where people did not bring their business cards or didn’t reciprocate when I handed them mine. Awkward! So with these experiences and the start to 2014, I thought I would share my four tips for better networking.
1. Always have a business card on you!
You never know who you will meet and where you might meet them. Tuck business cards (or contact cards for students) into your purse, briefcase, wallet, car, gym bag and other things you carry so that if you happen to meet the one person who can help you get ahead in this world, you are not scribbling your information on a napkin. Or worse, you don’t exchange information at all.
2. Be approachable and responsive at events.
If you are attending a business function or networking mixer, even a cocktail party, it’s time to be open to meeting new people. If you stand in the corner with your nose to your phone or speak only with your friends, you are missing out on the opportunity to expand and grow your network. On that note, if someone is brave enough to walk up to you and introduce themselves, by all means, be friendly and welcoming, engage in conversation and exchange business cards.
3. Listen up!
Your secret ingredient in your networking skills is the ability to listen to the person you’ve met and figure out what or who you have in common. Learning this about your new contact will help you connect them to others in your network. The art of networking rests within the ability to make connections. If you approach people with the idea that you want to see what you can get out of them, you are not networking. If you recognize that your role is to connect people you know, you will be a very successful networker. The more you connect other people to each other, the more they will connect others to you.
4. Connect online and follow up.
Once you’ve collected those cards, go home and jot down some notes. This will help you keep your memory in tact! What event did you meet at? What do you have in common? Was their a funny story you enjoyed? If you know who you want to connect them to, write their name down too. Figure out what social channel your new contact is on and connect. Follow up by introducing them to another person in your network and scheduling that coffee meeting you spoke about.
And that’s it! Pretty easy to adopt and very effective tips for better networking. Remember, networking is not about you. It’s about helping connect the people you already know. This lands you a reputation as a good networker and that person who “knows everyone.” To grow in your career or expand your business, networking is an essential skill.
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Four Tips for Better Networking video 08:04