Networking Do’s and Don’ts

Following up on our previous post about the Importance of Networking, let’s look at a few things to do and to definitely NOT do when networking.

Do:

  1. Look your best.  Put on your professional clothes and a genuine smile.  If you want to be taken seriously you need to look like you take yourself seriously!  Showing up to a meeting, group or one on one, in cargo pants, baseball cap and a well used jacket does not leave a good impression.  Even if your job is not one where you need to wear “professional” clothes keep an outfit with you so you can change if you need to.
  2. Know your stuff.  Have an “elevator speech” ready in your mind at all times, and know yourself and your company enough that you can change it up to suit your listener.  Being able to confidently explain who you and your company are in 30-60 seconds can come in very handy, and the more you know it and less “umms” and “ahhs”, the more professional you will be.
  3. Bring Business Cards.  I’ve said it a million times, ALWAYS bring business cards with you, wherever you go.  You never know when you might run into a great contact – it’s not always at specific functions!  You may meet a great contact waiting in line at the supermarket and wouldn’t that be frustrating if you didn’t have a card to give them?  So whether it be an official networking event or just running out to get eggs and milk, bring cards with you!
  4. Shake Hands.  A great way to show confidence is with a great handshake.  A limp handshake can make anyone cringe – be sure yours is firm and confident!  Try to mirror the strength of the handshake you are receiving.  A handshake shows that you are paying attention to someone and are happy to meet them.  It’s hard not to talk to someone who is smiling and shaking your hand!
  5. Keep in contact with your connections.  The best connections are face-to-face or by phone, but keeping top-of-mind with a great email newsletter with useful information (not just sell, sell, sell!) can work wonders as well.  If you’re a realtor, for example, you may meet someone who is not intending to sell, but in a few months if they are and need a realtor pulling your contact information from a recent email is easy!

Don’t:

  1. Be late.  Ensure that you arrive on time or a couple minutes early.  Not only will it keep you from being harried, stressed out and out of breath, but it makes a good impression.  It shows that you care enough about your appointment or event to come on time.  It also shows respect for others that did show up on time by not wasting their time!
  2. Talk more than you listen.  Everyone hates someone who rambles on and on about nothing, and finds it even more annoying when someone goes on and on about how amazing they are.  Listening to someone makes them feel important, and who doesn’t want to feel important?  Always remember, you have two ears and one mouth – use them in the same ratio!
  3. Ignore referrals.  If you mention that you’re looking for a particular contact, and get the contact, follow up!  If someone is referring to you they are putting their reputation out for you as well.  It can look bad for the person referring to you if you do not follow up.  And always thank people for referrals, even if they don’t work out.  A gift or cards is great, but even a genuine email or phone call can work too.  Everyone loves to know their referral was appreciated!
  4. Sell, Sell, Sell.  A genuine conversation is always more comfortable than listening to someone pushing their products or services on you.  Networking is about relationships not getting a big list of clients.  A good relationship can lead to a more long-term customer anyhow.  So hold off on your sales pitch and shoving your business card in someone’s hand the second you meet them, introduce yourself, learn about them and then exchange cards or give more details about your product or service.
  5. Cling to people you know.  Networking is all about meeting new people.  How can you meet new people if you cling only to those you know?  Always look for new faces and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.  Particularly at Networking Events – everyone is there to meet people anyway!  If you know yourself and your company well networking doesn’t have to be difficult.

Keep these tips in mind and your Networking should start being a lot smoother.  And always remember – Networking happens EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME.  So keep your business card handy and smile!

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This entry was posted by Anna Kouwenberg on Monday, December 20th, 2010 at 3:47 pm and is filed under Networking. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.