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Top 10 Tips For Networking Success

December 5, 2012

Do you think you are good at networking, but are frustrated when you aren’t able to close the deal? Are you attending lots of events, but aren’t seeing the fruits of your networking efforts? Or, do you wish you could just fade into the background when you are at a party, only talking to the people you already know?

Well, I have news for you. Extroverts and introverts can both be excellent networkers who can build strong relationships and reel in the deals (and the job offers/promotions). Both types of personalities offer different strengths and challenges to networking. For instance, an extrovert may have more confidence to approach a group of people and talk to them. But an introvert will spend a great deal of time really listening to others and taking in the details of the conversation, which will be immensely important in building relationships after the party for the follow-up calls.

Tips for Networking Success

1.Be Yourself – Everyone has something to bring to the table when networking. It is important to bring YOU! If you are guarded, people will not get a sense of who you really are and it will be difficult to connect with you. If you try too hard to be the life of the party, you may be seen as somebody who is only out for fun but cares little about their business.

2.Relax – Remember everyone at the event is a person hoping to connect with others, just like you. With this in mind, make a point of approaching at least 5 new people at every event you attend.

3.Business cards – I am constantly surprised when I am talking to people at networking sessions and they have forgotten their business cards. Carry them with you at all times! I have even given out a business card when I was in the midst of getting an ultrasound! There are always opportunities to connect.

4.Be passionate about your product or service…or else find the door- This may sound harsh, but I actually think if your personal values don’t line up with the product or service that your company sells, you need to leave the organization. How can you passionately talk about your business when networking if you are not excited about it. If you are not enthusiastic about what you offer, others won’t be interested in what you stand for. And honestly, isn’t life too short to work at a place that doesn’t light you up?

5.Put the technology away – If you are going to socialize, then you need to focus on the face-to-face interaction. People often pull out their smart phones when they have a moment at these sessions, but what they don’t realize is that others may be ready to approach them but when they see the technology out, they don’t want to interrupt. You’d be surprised what opportunities you are missing out on when you bring your technology to the party.

6.Dress for success – I hate to say it, but as human beings, we tend to judge a book by its cover. With this in mind, you need to think about what you want to communicate about yourself when you go out? I challenge you to remember to include your appearance when considering how to build your brand and differentiate yourself. Wear clothing that is professional and feels comfortable to you. Strive to wear something a bit different than the others. Guys, this may be as simple as a brightly coloured tie. Ladies, this could be a chunky piece of jewellery or scarf. Give yourself some spark. Others will remember it…and you too!

7.Get personal – Don’t be afraid to shift out of business discussions and ask people about their families, vacations, and other passions. Be prepared to share the same about yourself. People want to do business with those they like and connect with. Taking the time to show others you genuinely care about them will be one of your greatest keys to networking success!

8. Follow-up – We know that the follow-up is key to cashing in on your networking efforts, but this is one of the greatest areas of missed opportunity because people don’t make time for it and then wonder why they didn’t get the deal. The day after your networking event, send everyone you received a business card from an email and ask them for lunch. At the lunch, continue the dialogue and then ASK them for their business. Tell them exactly what you want them to do and then share the benefit to them of doing what you are requesting. If at first you don’t succeed, keep connecting with them and building the relationship.

9. Go online – Networking online is exploding. I have received as many new customers through my online networking as through my face-to-face meetings. It seriously pays to go online. But there are so many different social media forums out there – Facebook, Twitter, Pininterest, YouTube, blogs, Linked In, and the list goes on and on. So how do you choose where to go?

Unless you have serious resources allocated to social media, I would encourage you to put greater focus on one area of online relationship building and do a great job there versus having a presence everywhere and not really reaching anyone. I personally think that LinkedIn is a great resource for building professional connections and increasing business. You have to fish where your fish are. For me, my audience is largely professional executives and entrepreneurs so LinkedIn makes sense for me. Evaluate your audience and do your research.

To be successful at online networking, you need to reach out and connect with others. Online relationship-building may be a more comfortable networking forum for introverts who can sit behind their computers and connect with others. The key is to reach out to others. Invite them to be a part of your network. Join up for groups that reflect your interests and comment on others’ posts. Then follow up with an invite to meet in person.

10.Use your gut- I am a big advocate of using the gut instinct. So much so, I am even writing a book on it. Have you ever walked into a room and just felt a connection with someone there? Perhaps your eyes met or you just felt something really intriguing about this person. When you feel this way, make the effort to walk over to that person and say hi. Every time I have felt this kind of ‘pull’ towards someone, I have never regretted making the effort to reach out to him or her. Something good has always come from it.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 11, 2012 11:34 am

    Great tips Carrie. Thanks for sharing! I plan to share this with my students who are just starting to realize the importance of networking but most of them are very intimidated by the thought. I have a feeling these tips will help!

    • December 11, 2012 12:10 pm

      Hello.

      Glad those tips on networking for success will be useful to your students! Networking really is a survival skill – in business and in life!
      Take care.
      Carey-Ann

  2. December 11, 2012 2:00 pm

    Very helpful suggestions for networking, a lot of common sense. You make a very good point with regard to the first impression that people make when meeting someone for the first time; it’s important to look good and as you said, dress for success. Follow-up is really a simple thing to do yet many people don’t do it. Given the ease of email, it’s convenient to send off a note to say “thank you.”

    • December 11, 2012 3:52 pm

      Jim:

      Thanks for taking the time to read my article. I agree with your “common sense” comment. Often, common sense just doesn’t seem all that common. And you’re right, technology makes it so easy to say thank you.

      Carey-Ann

  3. December 12, 2012 8:39 am

    These tips are great – thanks for sharing them. I would also suggest one more: be prepared! I was recently at a community forum and wtnessed this mistake myself. Someone was asked about what they do and they had difficulty responding without lengthy, complicated jargon. Their passion and commitment were evident, their elevator speech needed work! I’d say always ‘be prepared’ to explain exactly what you do and why in simple terms (not dumbed-down, but clear to those not in your field) that can be understood, and will resonate with those around you. Cheers!

    • December 12, 2012 11:45 am

      Thanks Mallary. I have witnessed that same thing. What I had to do when I started my business was actually to think what I was most passionate about with my life and leadership development firm,Potential Unlimited, and just state the most important highlights. I practiced this over and over again by myself until I got it into about 15 seconds. I think you lose people when you go on and on, as you said. Thanks again for sharing your insights!
      Carey-Ann

  4. Sandy Johnson permalink
    December 12, 2012 3:07 pm

    Nicely done, Carey- Ann. There’s always something new to learn about this process. You’ve made a great observation on how it can work for both introverts and extroverts. Your first tip says it all. Being “You” takes the pressure off. You can focus on someone else…. 🙂

    • December 12, 2012 3:22 pm

      Thanks Sandy for your kind words. I like how you focused on the tip about ‘being you’ and putting the focus on the other person. I find we are often so worried about getting ahead that we do focus on ourselves and our families. But in reality, when we start to open ourselves up and give more to others, that is actually when true success (in every sense of the word) enters our lives. I have learned that lesson personally myself throughout my career.

  5. Jeff Griffith permalink
    December 14, 2012 5:52 pm

    A very timely article Carey-Ann. I’m personally trying to improve my own abilities in this area, and I know I can put your tips into practice. Thanks for sharing!

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