From Dr. Carol
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
by Carol Goldberg, Ph.D. All