Networking - A little thing with HUGE results!

"We are all connected, like a net we cannot see."
- NYC cab driver
This one of my favorite quotes and I can't even give real credit to the great mind that spoke it! You all know it's true...You meet someone somewhere and within 5-10 minutes you find you had the same high school English teacher, you have a mutual friend, you have the same vehicle or each have a red front door. Some weird connection you may have never guessed. And... I believe that connections are one of the most important thing you have going for you!

More people are afraid of walking into a room, striking up a conversation and networking than you would imagine! So what do you do? Well, if you really believe connections are important, you suck it up and thank God for this wonderful opportunity!

Here are a couple of hints and suggestions for "working a room":

  • Have your "hello" ready. Walk up, extend your hand and greet someone. "Hello, I'm Anita. I'm so glad to be here because...." Remember, the "roof" is your connection if you don't have another. You are both in the same place so talk about what or why you're there.
  • Take advantage of things going on - ask them what they thought of the program or speaker you just heard, or what you're about to hear. Ask them what they thought of the food. The tip here is ASK QUESTIONS. Someone once told me, "Anita, you can talk to anyone." No. I can ask questions and listen and take cues to ask more questions.
  • If two people are talking - face to face - and it appears they are in their own conversation, don't bother them. On the other hand, if they are more side to side, an open triangle so to speak, it's an open invitation to join them. I know it's scary but suck it up and do it anyway. If you walk up and try to introduce yourself and they don't acknowledge you, that's fine, not a big deal, walk away and try someone else. There are others out there wanting to connect and meet YOU.
  • Once you strike up a conversation with someone, don't monopolize their time. Talk for a short while then excuse yourself and go meet someone else new. If you're shy, like me, you'll WANT to hang there. I mean you've found a nice person and you're talking.... isn't that the point? Well, yes but also to meet many people while you're here. Not just one. Meet, connect and cultivate. That's what networking is all about. We're working on the "meet and connect" part right now.
  • Let them know you've enjoyed visiting with them, that you'd like to keep in contact and ask for their contact information. Always ask for theirs first. Don't just hand them your card. You don't want to be perceived as the smarmy sales person who is there to hand out as many business cards as they can. Be interested in THEM. It's all about THEM, not you. Any benefits you receive are secondary.
  • When they do give you a card, look at it. Look at them. Don't just take it and shove it in your pocket or purse. Be genuinely interested. And then ask if they'd like your contact info. You may want to take notes on the back of the card so you can remember key things you visited about, but don't do that in front of them - do this later on.
  • Thank them for their time, use their name, mention one thing you're really glad you talked about or found out and - if this is really something you mean - tell them you'll be contacting them soon. Be sincere. If you really have no intention of contacting them, why say that?
Hopefully this has given you some ideas on networking with a big group of people. There are so many other things we can talk about in regards to networking... more some day later. Right now, I'm going to take my granddog for a walk!


Renita Farrall said...

Thanks Anita for a great boost. It has always been hard for me to just go up to a stranger and start a conversation even tho I know I should. This makes it much easier, especially with asking questions because, I can never think of what I should say to a stranger.
Thank you for the great ideas.
Keep up the great work.