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© Copyright 2000-2016 by Carol Goldberg, Ph.D.  

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Networking

Networking Tips

From Dr. Carol Goldberg

 

     What is the most important thing you can do to grow your business?  If you answered “networking,” you understand the value of cultivating people who can help you professionally.  Equating networking just with meeting potential clients misses broader opportunities.  Networking is meeting facilitators who can provide clients, advice, and connections to services, equipment, and people resources.

     Your strongest networking support comes from those who know you personally since they are most familiar with your abilities and have the strongest commitments to you.  Family, friends, satisfied clients, and those who have some personal acquaintance with you are most likely to help you.

Finding Networking Events

     Although you can network anywhere, you may seek the concentrated benefits of hard core networking. You can join organizations and attend events unabashedly created for touting your business.  Newspapers, magazines, and trade publications contain listings of networking events.  Organizations that welcome guests insure a flow of new contacts.

     Networking events may include or exclude competitors.  Not having competitors provides a marketing advantage and less compulsion to be on-guard.  Nevertheless, some competitors are willing to be supportive and share information which only those in the same profession are capable of doing.

     Breakfast time favors short speeches conveying information, but not networking since people are preoccupied with rushing off to appointments.  After work, they are ready to unwind and meet others.

     In general, the longer the event and the more participants are free to roam, the greater the networking opportunities.  Opt for events with open seating, such as hors d’oeuvre hours and buffet dinners, and without long speeches.  Events which allocate time for public introductions and provide participants with a list of attendees with their addresses and phone numbers encourage networking during and after.

Getting the Most from Networking Events

1. Bring lots of cards.

2. Prevent the mistake of giving out someone else’s card instead of yours by keeping your cards in one pocket and cards you collect in another pocket.

3. Instead of burdening yourself and others carrying brochures and large promotional items, consider mailing them as follow-up reminders or directing people to your website with its address on your card.

4. Give your full attention and eye contact to the person with whom you are speaking.

5. Try to mention ways to help each other.  Before parting, suggest a concrete next step, such as calling with information, sending material, or an appointment.

6. Be sincere.  Avoid unwanted promises.

7. Know when to move on so both of you can meet others.

8. Immediately afterwards, jot brief notes on the back of each card you collect about the person, what you discussed, and the next step.

9. Avoid the temptation to spend most of your time in the comfort of those you know well.  

10. File cards and/or computer data base their information along with the date and place you met.  Enter follow-up plans on your calendar.

 A Tip for Employers

     If you want employees to network, instead of reserving tables for them at networking events, ask them to sit apart.  Togetherness defeats networking, although it promotes team building and may motivate employees by rewarding them with a meal.  

                                                   © Copyright 1999 by Carol Goldberg, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

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