“Net-Working” is different from “networking.” I want you to think about the people you know and those who know you as a physical net that you have to throw out there (putting it to “work”) to help you reach your goals and objectives. It’s important you take action and ask for what you want. But that’s only one part of the equation. The other part is understanding that you are also part of someone else’s “net” so you have to be ready and willing to be put to work.
But how do you build a net-work in the first place. Some make it look so easy and you can too. Here are 10 tips to get you networking like a pro.
- Have a Goal. Before you head out to a networking event, make sure you take time to figure out what you are looking for at the current moment. If you know what you are looking for you increase you chances of recognizing it when it is presented to you. You may be looking for a business partner, new opportunities, a new supplier, etc and should be ready when someone ask you, “How may I be of assistance to you? What are you looking for at this time? or Who is your ideal client?”
- Know what you have to offer. Being clear on your areas of strengths, the circles you run with, allow you to be of immediate assistance to the people you meet. Instead of having to fumble through your list of contacts later trying to figure out a good connection, have a sense of what you have to offer and who are the mover and shakers in your current network. People are not the only thing you can provide as a resource. It may be a service that you provide or align to a hobby. To be a person of influence, you have to keep up to date on what you have offer the world.
- Have Business Cards. Or don’t. If you are going to use business cards, make sure you have a system in place that allows you easily distribute your business cards and process the ones you are receiving without mixing the two up.I suggest keeping your personal business cards in your outside jacket pocket (not wearing a jacket, then be sure to keep them in a business card holder) and those that you collect as you are networking in your inside jacket pockets. Another technique and my method of choice to not to use business cards and use an app such as #Hashable (available for iPhones and Android phones) which allows you to virtually exchange contact information and also place a reminder in your calendar so you can follow-up after the event.
- Your Mindset. Right before I enter any event I get myself in the right mindset, “I am here to serve. I will connect with the people that I am supposed to connect with.” You have to remember that your goal is not sell anything. It is to connect with another human being, see if there is anything you can offer them and if it makes sense, put yourself in a position to follow-up.
- Hands Free. Keep your right-hand free for shaking hands. If you have to keep something in your right-hand, make sure it is dry. There is nothing worst than connecting with the person who could potential take your business to the next level with cold, wet hands. Keep the beer, wine or other spirits in your left-hand.
- Name Tags. While drinks should in your left-hand, your name tag should be below your shoulder on your right side. This tip is important so you make things easier for those you are greeting and introducing yourself for the first time or introducing others. Most of the time it’s noisy at networking events and it may be difficult to hear your name. The solution is to take a quick look at your name tag. If your name tag is on your left side, the person shaking your hand has to turn their head to read your name tag instead of keeping with their natural line of sight — sounds confusing? Grab a partner, a post-it note and try shaking hands with the post on either their side of their body. See the difference?
- Take Notes. A great way to remember what you spoke to people about is to take notes on the back of their business card. If there is no business card exchange, use paper and pen or an electronic note-taker. I use Evernote or the Notes app on my iPhone. Information important to capture is the date met, event of meeting, any physical description that will help you to remember the person, anything special you discussed and a list of anything you promised to follow-up on.
- Connect Right Away. After you meet someone you want to reach out and let them know it was a pleasure to meet them and remind them what you discussed. With smart phones, tablets and free Wi-Fi you can connect before the event is over. Using tip No. 7 above, you have information that allows you to send a quick note recapping your conversation and things you will follow-up on.
- Follow-up. It’s important to follow-up on action ideas you promised and other ones that were on your mind. Let’s say you met someone looking for a printer and you didn’t have the information on hand; sending a follow-up note with that information will show that you were listening. You are well on your way to building a great relationship.
- Check-in. This is what will take you from a regular networking to a high-level networker. Everyone expects you to follow-up right after you meet, but very few take the next step and check-in, or what Keith Ferrazzi calls in his Relationship Masters Academy, “Pinging.” Set-up a reminder in your calendar to follow up one- to two-months after you first met. Before re-connecting, review your notes to refresh yourself on what you discussed and ask, “How did [insert something from your initial conversation] turn out?” If you have a book or article that you think may be relevant to them, it’s an excellent time to suggest it.
Do you already use any of the Net-working tips above? What are your favorite Net-working tips?
Mike “Ambassador” Bruny is the founder and principal of AmbassadorBruny.com. Bruny runs a professional and personal coaching practice focused mainly on helping young professionals and businesses.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.