“It’s not what your connections can do for you; it’s what you can do for your connections.”
I recently read this and I liked how it paraphrased JFK.
Many people find networking very stressful and over-rated. That is because they are not in the right mindset. Period.
Before you go out to networking events, conferences, and trade-shows, one of your goals should be to come back to the office, with a list of new connections that you can be of service to. Yes, you can help them. Coming home with a list of movers and shakers so that others see that you are well-connected will not bring home the bacon or the bagel lox and shmear. Ok, I take that back, partially. It is great to have friends in high places that can help you or recommend you. However, if you believe in yourself and your professional capabilities then let people know.
- Smile. Everyone likes a smile. That goes together with a positive attitude. No one likes negativity.
- Instead of the usual meet and greet psychology of “What can they do for me?” Find out what they do and how you can help them.
- Set a goal for yourself – Today I am going to meet at least 10 new people.
- Have your elevator pitch ready. Remember first impressions stick, don’t be wordy, clarity is the key here. Most important, listen to what the other person has to say, give them the stage.
- Make eye contact with the person – look into their eyes. Don’t look for the closest escape route.
- Bring stacks of business cards – have them ready in an outer pocket of your handbag or in your pant pocket, don’t start scrambling to search for them.
- Be a connector. If you can connect people at an event do it! People remember good connectors.
- Follow-up, don’t forget – reach out on LinkedIn, send an email, call. Do it right away.
Get out there and practice – Go to events, you will get better. What are your favorite networking tips? Please share them with us.