Nine Advance Networking Skills for Seasoned Networkers
A seasoned networker knows the real meaning of networking -- being organized, efficient, effective, and, of course, work the event to its fullest. Attending networking groups after so many years can tire and drain anyone's excitement. Especially since these situations are not social events. It is easy to have one foot in the event and the other some place else. A major challenge for all networkers is to be there with both feet.
What propels someone to advance networker? Is it the number of events or the number of years they attend? No. Is it the delicate balance and expertise on how they work the event? Yes.
Here are nine techniques that raise networkers skill level:
1. Business cards. If you are networking for a new job or career, there is nothing inappropriate about having a business card with a tag line of what type of job or company you are seeking.
Basic networkers learn that wearing an outfit with two pockets is important for the business card shuffle. Advance networkers think of those pockets as their in-box and an out-boxes.
Aware networkers hand business card exchanges differently. They don't ask for the card until they know something about the person's functionality and there is a match. No match, no card. When you receive someone's card; receive it gently with both hands, stop and read it. This shows respect. Respect to who they are and what they do.
Present your card exactly the same way you receive a card. Present with both hands and the card's information facing the receiver. Extend your card, with eye contact, and wait for them to receive the card. To present and receive in this manner, both hands need to be free.
Keep a pen handy, in the out-box pocket with your own cards, for writing tidbits on the back. Doing so is also a physical queue that is your pocket in case you forget. In- box, left pocket, is for other's cards. If you are left- handed, the boxes are opposite.
Never apologize for your business card. At the last six events I attended, there were at least four people that were apologizing for either not having a business card, or for some error on their card. When this occurs you have zapped your personal power. It sends a signal that you aren't ready to do business. Even quickie inkjet business cards and better than an excuse.
If you don't have any business cards or ran out, I recommend skipping events until you do. Don't say you don't have a card, use this other technique: ask if you can call them and schedule the time then. Advance networkers are ready to schedule an appointment right then. Generally seasoned networkers toss any business card if presented with an excuse.
2. Brochures, samples or flyers. If you need to hold any of these use an appropriate see-through sleeve or small see- through carrier. For flyers use a clear sleeve with an in and out business card holders on the front. This keeps handouts clean and safe. People don't appreciate receiving paper with bent edges or ragged rims. If you write articles, bring your latest and appropriate copy for handouts. One handout per event is appropriate.
3. Eye contact depends on the culture. I'm speaking here for the American culture. Make eye contact, both eyes, when presenting your business card or receiving theirs. Make eye contact when shaking hands. And look at them, not their hands. Honor the person by maintaining focused eye contact on them.
Seasoned networkers know if you are right handed, the name tag is placed on the right. This allows the name to appear in visual perimeter when shaking hands. If the name tag is on the left, others assume you are left handed and will present their other hand accordingly.
During your 30 seconds, advanced networkers don't begin or continue speaking as they stand or return to their seat. They breathe from their stomach and slowly look around the room before speaking to gain audience attention and allow people to switch to listening mode.
4. It is not important to meet everyone in the room. Use the time efficiently to meet only those that match your intention. Seasoned networkers know when and how to break- off the contact to keep moving. They do so smoothly.
If you know others in the room, seasoned networkers know how to hand the other person off to the next person. "Jill, let me introduce you to Sandy. Sandy, Jill. Please excuse me while you two get to know each other." Another way to politely move on is by saying, "Thank you, I've enjoyed talking with you. I know we're both here to meet other people. So, let's do so."
5. Come ready to sell (one of my pet peeves). People bring an event flyer with a call to action to register at a website or mail a check. You just lost the sale. Be ready, accept cash, check or credit card payment. Generally people don't carry more than $20 and prefer to use their credit or debit cards. Give people an incentive for registering at the event. Ask for a commitment. Flyers that require a visit to a website or to mail a check almost always get trashed. You can see them piled in the events trash can.
If you're not ready to get orders, omit it. If you are an author, bring your books and sell them. Autograph the book. Ask if they want to purchase a copy for a client or friend.
When people don't accept credit cards, it tells me they are new and aren't ready to sell. It can also say that the event will have little attendance. People hate to show up at events with little attendance.
6. Let go of the multi-tasking ladies. Eat first and then network. People generally don't want to interrupt someone when they are eating. Use a purse that doesn't slide off the should ever few minutes, it's distracting. You may want not to take a purse or use it to hold the material in plastic sleeves.
7. Introducing yourself, title vs. functionality. Which is more important to the person you are talking to -- your title or what functions you can help them with. Yep, the latter. Instead of saying, "I'm a tax preparer" say, "I help people save money on their taxes". Instead of saying, "I'm a business coach" give a WIIFM. Here's one of mine: "One of my specialties is to help service professionals create a short business plan in less than an hour that says everything they need to stay focused for the coming year."
Be careful of your tone, pace, and breathing when you talk. People don't naturally tune into what you are saying until the third or fourth word. The example above, "One of my... doesn't say anything important until "service professionals". Name presentation is the same. I say, Catherine Franz, slowly and then repeat my first name: "Catherine with a C". Generally, when people are nervous, they forget to breath before speaking. Then the information erupts like a volcano. Most of it as inaudible.
8. Less than ½ % of 1% of unseasoned networkers follow-up. That is a sad statistic, and loss of opportunity. Recently, after five events and tagging 40 business cards, only four followed up. I called four, said I wanted to place an order, and still no response. When we met up again, they apologized for being too busy. Oops, I went somewhere else. Stop the excuses, no wants to hear them.
On another similar note, don't promise to follow-up and don't. It shoots down your credibility. If you are one of these, please note, when this occurs, people many times take it personally.
Follow-up within 24 business hours. Your follow-up displays your level of commitment to relationships. The way you follow-up, e-mail or phone, measures how much you want a relationship.
9. Prepare for the event. Bring any promised items. For morning events, prepare the day before. Arrive early. Early bird gets the worm. Freshen up, walk in relaxed, breathing correctly, standing tall, and ready. Bring samples, product specials of the month to sell. If its hand cream, use it and pass it around the room. Author of a new book, read a paragraph that gets them curious during your 30 seconds, and bring copies for people to purchase.
Catherine Franz, a Certified Professional Marketing & Writing Coach, specializes in product development, Internet writing and marketing, nonfiction, training. Newsletters and articles available at: http://www.abundancecenter.com blog: http://abundance.blogs.com
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