Effective Business Networking

By Barry Carlin

We go to business events to make contacts to enhance our business.  With appropriate preparation and technique, even a shy person can be successful and have some fun in the process.  These tips are from a book by Susan Roane: How To Work A Room, and things that I have learned from friends, colleagues and the best teacher of all…my own mistakes.lightbulb people

Pre-Event Preparation – Have:

♦ Plenty of business cards and give them out to all that you meet.
♦ A pen
♦ 3 pieces of small talk: kids, weather, news, sports,etc. If it fits your personality, a short, clean joke. Avoid politics and religion.
♦ Prepare and practice a 10 & 60 second “self introduction”:
– Upbeat & positive
– Who you are.
– What you do & what benefits you supply.
– Why your service/product is unique or special.
– Go from the least to the most important facts.
– What is a good referral for you.
♦ Dress professionally.
♦ Place a neat, easy to read, nametag on the right so it can be seen as you shake hands.
♦ Work out with a buddy: To introduce each other and their business and a rescue signal to get out of a situation.

At The Event:

♦ Arrive on time
♦ Check out where everything is so you can assist others
♦ Say hello to friends and the host
♦ If you forget a name, state yours and ask theirs again with humor “I don’t have all-zheimers, I’m told I have half-heimers” or “I guess I’m getting old”
♦ Act like a host, show interest in others
♦ Have a positive attitude and smile
♦ Walk away from people with negative behavior
♦ Focus on the benefits of the event and the organization
♦ Have a good handshake: not too limp or too hard, not “the 2 handed pump”
♦ When talking: make eye contact, listen attentively, do not be looking around the room
♦ Make strangers & people by themselves feel comfortable

Making Contacts at the Event

Have the courage to take risks.  Approach people!  Everyone is there to make business contacts and they will appreciate the chance to talk about their business.

Be direct, ask people what they want to be asked!!!  Hello, my name is_____________.

♦ What is your business? (listen attentively)
♦ Ask questions to clarify and show an interest
♦ Where are you located?
♦ May I have your card?
♦ What would be a good referral for you?
♦ Let them see you write something on the back of their card
♦ If you genuinely have an interest in doing business with them or referring to them, let them know (make sure to follow thru)
♦ Pause with eye contact and a smile. 95% of the time they will ask about your business. If not “May I tell you about my business”?
– Hand them your card
– Do your 10 or 60 second “Self Intro”
– Let them know what type of referrals you are looking for
– Follow thru with promises to get or give information
– Offer to introduce them to someone that can help their business, at the event or elsewhere….seek ways to refer business to others.
♦ Set up light meetings (lunch, coffee or at work) with anyone you may be able to do business with. Do not try to close business at the event.
♦ Do not spend too much time with any one person, you are there to make contacts. To extricate yourself: “Excuse me, it was nice meeting you. I will speak to you (or see you) at________, or I look forward to seeing you again. There are several people I promised to meet with at this event.”

After the Event

♦ Send a hand written note to everyone that you met. “Hello, I am ______, we met at _____. I look forward to … “ yada, yada, yada.
♦ Follow thru with all promises in a timely manner.

Things to Avoid

♦ Pigging out at the buffet
♦ Monopolizing conversation or interrupting others when speakingaround the world
♦ Being too loud
♦ Hard sell of your product or service
♦ Complaining or criticizing
♦ Getting drunk
♦ Negative people
♦ Behavior or jokes that are sexually suggestive

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Dr. Barry Carlin, the founder and director of Best Performance Systems, has been involved with performance enhancement and injury prevention and reduction since 1987. Dr. Carlin has taught seminars and trained hundreds of companies throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia. Dr. Barry Carlin was chosen to be a featured speaker on Workplace Ergonomics at the recent National Ergonomics Conference in Las Vegas. His topic was “An Integrated Approach To Increase Productivity And Reduce Injuries 50-90%”. To contact Barry, call him at 888-306-0002 or 310-478-1234 , e-mail info@bestperformancesystems.com or visit his website, www.bestperformancesystems.com to receive a free report on how your employees and company can benefit.

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