Strategic Business Network

Tips

PRAISE SUCCESS:

When people you know do something worthwhile or merely an achievement you admire or respect, LET THEM KNOW! Rarely do people receive the positive reinforcement or recognition they deserve. When possible praise them in public, such as company newsletter, writing an email to their boss or announce at within a group meeting. Other times, send a personal note or phone call. Such gestures will certainly be appreciated and cost you minimal effort. There is no better way to strengthen a relationship than with a sincere dose of admiration.

Innovative Follow Up Tactics:

- Maintain a cartoon file. Cut out comic strips with which use people’s first names, or a hobby/interest. Once a month send out 5-10 cartoons to those with the same name or which deals with their hobby/interest with a personal note as a gesture of re-connecting and offering some humor. - Send notes of Congrats or small gifts to recognize a promotion, award, birthday, anniversary etc.. - If someone is quoted in the paper, or there is an article or picture, cut out and send to them with a note. Make sure the article was positive and something they would want to keep.

Networking does not occur only at business functions. People network to find a great apartment, or get their child in to the right school. Aspiring singers network to get people to hear them, actors network to audition for a part, politicians network to garner support and real estate moguls network to get a deal done. Networking is a never ending, lifelong endeavor. Get good at it and network with style!

Small Talk

Never underestimate the value of small talk. Some people feel small talk is waste of time, but such small conversations can often lead to BIG business. Small talk provides insight into a person's interests, values and needs. The more you know, the stronger the connection. You must cultivate the rapport & likeability that's crucial to gain someone's business.

Networking 4 Life:

Networking is a lifestyle for everyone, not merely something for business professionals. People network to find a great apartment/house, or to get their child in to the right school. Musicians network to get discovered, politicians network to garner support, real estate moguls network to create the deal. Networking is a vital part of everyday life. It's about building the right set of relationships so that you're an insider, not an outsider.

Conversation Starters:

How did you get into your line of work? - What about the profession interested you? - What major changes do you foresee in your industry? - What are the current trends? - What have you found to be the best ways of getting the word out and promoting your business? - I meet people frequently, tell me: How would I know if someone I meet would be a good contact for you? (Every question delivers an impression about you, so ask questions that make you look smart, informed and concerned.)

Politely Interrupt:

If someone you wish to meet is engaged in a conversation, wait patiently for a break then apologize for interrupting. “I am sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to quickly introduce myself.”

Like We Needed Another Reason to Hang Out by the Buffet:

Our endorphin levels are higher when we are close to food which boosts our memory and the chance that we will remember and be remembered. Food makes us happy!! Periodically meeting people near the food table/buffet can help increase your chances to be remembered and deliver a positive impression.

Introductions the Right Way.

Proper Manner of making personal introductions: Younger person is introducted to an older person; Man introduced to a woman; Less important person to a VIP

Remember:

You say the name of the person who is older, the woman and the more important person FIRST. Dad I wanted to introduce you to Bob Smith, who graduated from Penn with me.; Leslie Importante meet my friend Sarah Generic.

Read Business Books.

Many professionals often read business books, so you want to make sure that you are knowledgeable about the latest business trends. Such books will offer insight and provoke your way of thinking. By remaining well read, you will arm yourself with conversation topics, appear to be versed in business theory and able to recommend books to others.

Going Up. Having an Effective Elevator Pitch.

More Space:

Taking up physical space is a sign of external confidence. Stand when possible versus sitting. If you are sitting, stretch out your legs or arms beyond the boundaries of the chair to maximize your spatial volume.

Long Term:

Focus on building long-term relationships, not an immediate transaction. People who invest the time to forge relationships and build their social capital are those who will ultimate succeed and appreciate the rewards from their efforts.

Networking is NOT selling

, nor USING people for your gain. Networking IS an exchange of information, contacts, referrals and goodwill. Networking leads to new relationships, new opportunities and greater accomplishments.

Give First:

As an effective networker, you must be willing to take a risk and Give First. To demonstrate your sincerity to help your freshly kindled relationships, be the first to pass a referral, share new information or make a new introduction.

Mirroring:

People naturally feel comfortable with those like them. To create more comfort in a conversation, mirror your partner's body language. Subtly adjust to mimic their posture - Lean forward if they are leaned forward, cross your arms if theirs are crossed. This will add to your likeability.

Remembering Names

Right before you meet new people, prepare to receive their name. Try to associate their name with something visual – what they are wearing, a word that rhymes etc. Use their name in your first or second response. Mention their name naturally during the conversation – Don’t overdo it! Repeat their name when parting.

Humor ME

Humor has been scientifically proven to relieve stress, motivate and improve relationships. Using good humor relaxes people and allows them to be more open. A tense or uncomfortable person is far less able or willing to engage in a good discussion with you. “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people” - Victor Borge

Connect Others

Make connections for them. Help them find new business, a valuable connection, or anything that enhances their life or solves a problem.

Grow Your Network

Seeking new relationships and nurturing them is one key ingredient to success that can inspire others to serve as your advocates and propel your business. Satisfied clients, business contacts, friends and your team are your best sales and marketing champions because they LIKE and TRUST you.

First Impression

When meeting people for the first time your body language speaks volumes! With a warm “Hello” and smile, deliver a firm handshake. With each conversation ALWAYS provide people your full attention by listening and asking good questions; avoid interrupting or looking around for someone more important. Fully engage yourself in that moment and seek to learn about others as well as share information about yourself. Exhibiting a proper demeanor indicates you are invested in the conversation and are sincerely interested in building a new relationship. Business circles are small, leave an unforgettable first impression.

Offer to Help

Offer your assistance for the next event. Serve as host, set up/take down, check in attendees or however else you can help.
Allows you to meet people as they arrive and learn who attends.

Start a Newsletter

Sharing valuable information and insight on a consistent basis offers your contacts free expertise. Be succinct and include personal stories. This makes your words impactful and you more genuine.

New Ideas, New People for a New Year

Start off 2006 by trying something new. Join a new group. Whether a Chamber, Trade Association, Non Profit or even an Interest Club, join a new group and surround yourself with new people. There is no better way to infuse your network with fresh relationships and expand your circle of influence.

Thank the Organizers

Strive to thank the organizers and offer a compliment on their success. If tied up, send a quick hand written thank you note or email the next day.

Follow Up

When you meet new people at a networking event, it's a good practice to try to follow up with them via email, phone or written note within 48 hours. If you feel the connection is of no benefit to either party, it's okay not to follow up.

Develop Relationships

Use coffee, lunch meetings and email discussion to develop and maintain the most beneficial relationships. Ensure you are making contact with those in your network regularly and for reasons other than those strictly benefiting you. Scan the business section and look for mentions about the people you know. Send a note congratulating or wishing them well.

The Essentials

Before leaving your room each time ALWAYS have business cards and a working pen. Hotels kindly supply each room with a free pen so use it. Gum or breath mints are strongly encouraged to absorb those hearty conference meals. Insert cards in your pocket – make sure they are crisp and not written on. For the ladies – find an easy access place in your purse or a nice card holder.

Meeting someone who needs to know you

How do you go about introducing yourself to someone who needs to know who you are? For starters, leverage your network - find someone you already know to facilitate the introduction. Agree to meet your contact at a function and encourage your contact to reconnect first and then, join them a few moments into their conversation.

Table Manners

Always strive to make your mom proud and heed all those rule of etiquette she delicately instilled (i.e. pounded) into you! You would be surprised how many people do not know proper dining manners and more importantly how others notice. Especially if you are dining with spouses, they are very observant of such subtleties.

Power of Questions

A too seldom utilized opportunity to introduce yourself and meet new people is to ask a question in front of a large audience. Imagine you have the opportunity to introduce yourself and your organization to hundreds of people at once. People will remember your question.

Try to sit near the front Be one of the first to raise their hands. Ask a one part question that requires a descriptive answer and hopefully incites some discussion or invites multiple perspectives, than simply yes or no. Speak clearly and loudly.

Everyone is a customer

Whether the person you meet buys your product or now, they may still become a customer. Treat everyone you meet as a potential client and you will find success in the interaction.

Making A Request

We build networks so we can leverage the resources and collective knowledge of such a web of contacts. Asking the people in your network for help, contacts, advice etc., must be done with professionalism and sincerity. Be concise, clear and respectful. Offer sufficient information but careful to overload with extraneous data so they may respond timely. Never keep score of how many times you have helped someone or responded to requests. Make sure you request and never demand.

Card Exchange

Many people will forget to bring cards, run out of them or just not complete their end of the exchange. So don't feel slighted or get your feelings hurt. Become comfortable with offering you card and asking for one in return.

Remember People's Names

Use word association to recall the names of people you've met. When you are introduced, associate their name to something about them to help you remember. Or, more easily, use their name three times during the conversation to create an association in your mind. Another trick is to make notes on the back of their business card to remind you what they look like.

Maintain Eye Contact

Maintaining eye contact with each person you meet is critical. Letting your eyes wander while in conversation with a new person gives them the indication you aren’t interested in what they have to say. You may find this adversely affects your goal.

Think and speak positively

Positive attitude will result in positive outcome. Being positive makes people want to associate and cooperate with you.

ENGAGE

Attend all the workshops, break out sessions, seminars etc.. Speak up and participate. Seize the opportunity to meet new people, ask questions and learn.

Opportunity at every Turn.

The opportunity to expand your network may arise at any time in any situation. The elevator, buffet line or the gym. Be open. Be ready. Start the conversation. Opportunities reveal themselves when you start a conversation.

Wingman Support.

Often networking in pairs can be quite productive and allow a tag team approach. If you encounter a situation where your partner does not immediately introduce someone to you, it’s highly likely they do not recall their name. Make the save by introducing yourself and allow the person to reciprocate. You have relieved an awkward situation and further endeared yourself to your new friend! I hear MVP!

Introduce Others.

You can brag about others much more easily than yourself. So offer a glowing introduction of your networking partner. Sing their praises. This presents a good conversation initiator and your partner will feel honored by your kind words. Next time, switch and have your partner introduce you.

Maintain eye contact

Maintaining eye contact with each person you meet is critical. Letting your eyes wander while in conversation with a new person gives them the indication you aren’t interested in what they have to say. You may find this adversely affects your goal.

Think and speak positively.

Positive attitude will result in positive outcome. Being positive makes people want to associate and cooperate with you.

Remember People's Names:

Use word association to recall the names of people you've met. When you are introduced, associate their name to something about them to help you remember. Or, more easily, use their name three times during the conversation to create an association in your mind. Another trick is to make notes on the back of their business card to remind you what they look like.

Space Invaders.

Be aware of other’s personal space. Drawing too close while conversing can make people uncomfortable and less open. Anything closer than 18 inches is too close and people will back away from you for more space.

Read. Listen. Stay Informed.

To converse with others, one needs to be aware of issues and current events. Whether you read papers, listen to the local radio or watch the nightly news, be aware of happenings of importance nationally and locally. Set aside time each day to catch up on the latest. Armed with information you can make small talk and network with anyone. Being knowledgeable reinforces your image as someone who is informed, together and aware of the world.

Graceful Entrance.

Make a habit of asking for permission to join a conversation already in progress. Simply say, “How do ya’ll know each other? or "This looks like trouble, I want in!” Adjust your request to fit your personality and style. People appreciate courtesy and enjoy welcoming someone respectful into a group.

Make an Entrance.

You don't need a theme song or a spotlight, but when entering a room walk in and step to the right. Rather than barging straight in and to the bar or buffet. Pause a moment, take in a quick inventory of the room; lay out, who's there and what's going on. You will be noticed, especially by those who continuously maintain a watchful eye on the door. A simple and elegant entrance although not overly dramatic offers you a moment to enter into the moment and gather your thoughts. You appear to be calm, collected and confident. ready to mingle.

Be Sincere.

Networking is an opportunity to create a relationship and your initial approach will determine the foundation for future interactions. Invest your most precious; YOU! Spend time over coffee, lunch or a drink after work. Simply give of your time and offer to help others to demonstrate your sincerity in developing relationships.

Seek To Help Others.

Rather than looking for what others can do to help you, consider what you can do to help others. When you take yourself out of networking, you will reap a much more desired reward of people remembering you at the critical point of referring their friend or associate. Those who "do unto others" really are unforgettable.

Sit by Design, Not by Default.

Our natural tendency is to sit with those we know. You will often find a table full of people from one company or organization, which defeats the intent to meet new people! You are not being hunted; so traveling in packs is not necessary for survival! Don’t make the same mistake, force yourself outside your comfort zone and always sit at table with people you don’t know. Make sure everyone on your team understands this rule.

Cling Ons.

Where is Captain Kirk to beam you up? If you are out there starting conversations, you will inevitably become stuck in a dialogue from which there seems no escape. Some folks can talk endlessly and monopolize all your time if you allow them. A polite maneuver is to take the person to meet a new group and introduce them to the group. This expands the circle of conversations and enables you to engage in a new conversation or even excuse yourself.

Network Now. Eat Later.

Network or eat, but not at the same time. Trying to juggle a drink, a plate, napkin and still shake hands is a tough balancing act. If you can find a table then join a group already seated and chatting. If sitting is not an option, stop by the food and grab a single snack. Eat. Then mingle with only a drink so you still have your right hand free to shake hands. Anytime you want a bite, return to the buffet and repeat this process. With every trip you can meet new people.

Seek out the Singles.

This is not a dating advice column! If you see someone standing or sitting along, approach them and strike up a conversation. You never know what you may uncover by being proactive to meet new people. Many leaders and influential people are by nature introverted and enjoy being approached and welcomed into a group.

Body Language - BE OPEN:

Before you even open your mouth or shake hands your body language tacitly speaks volumes. In fact communication is only 7% verbal and 93% body language, tone of voice, speed and facial expressions. Strive to exhibit open and welcoming signals. Point your heart towards those you with whom you are conversing. Uncrossed arms and legs, leaning forward, standing/sitting erect, good eye contact, smiling and generally a relaxed demeanor - all say "world I am open for business".

Come Prepared. ALWAYS

have business cards and a working pen. Be able to concisely describe your organization, your role and how you help others.

Exiting a Conversation.

Here are some effective tactics: 1. Offer your card and express your interest in continuing to mingle. 2. Set up a time to call or meet in the future. 3. Excuse yourself shortly after another has joined in the conversation. 4. Introduce your new contact to someone else that you know. 5. Suggest you both go get a drink and meet some new people in line.

"It’s been great talking to you and I look forward to seeing you again”; "I see the client I invited has just arrived."; “I’d like to continue this conversation. May I call you?"; “I will keep your card on file when I need..”; “Would you like to get together for coffee next week?”; “I am going to grab a bite to eat.”; “I am new here, so I want to try and meet some others today.”; “I haven’t been to these meetings for several months and want to rekindle some other acquaintances.”; “I can only stay for an hour and I have several other people to talk with.”

Keep your exit comments and mannerisms positive and upbeat. Remember, your body language and tone play a more important role in you conversation closing than the words themselves. Leave a conversation with a smile, handshake and offer to help.

Good things do NOT come to those who wait

… they come to those who INITIATE. Take action! Consistently offer help and support through sharing of ideas, contacts and information.

Keep Your Word.

The most disappointing flaw in human nature is the lack of follow thru. Reflect on how many times someone promised to do something and didn't live up to their commitment. Its extremely frustrating and creates a negative image. If you commit to do something, do it! And do it timely! Don't make promises or commitments you cannot deliver. Building a relationship hinges on trust and credibility and keeping your word each and every time will make you truly unique and stand out.

Self Intro.

When asking a question in a public setting, always state your name and company. If appropriate and relevant, state a quick description of your business. Benefit: Brand yourself to the audience and makes you memorable for anyone who wants to follow up.

Add Value.

Increase your efforts to help others. Send them a suggestion, idea, strategy, or a tip of the month (or week) that will help grow their business.

Nurture Existing Relationships.

Constantly meeting new people is important to expanding your network, but never overlook the need to nurture your existing network. Focus on building reciprocal relationships in which you each strive to help and support one another.

Politely Exit.

Always strive to make several connections at events. The ritual of talking with someone, learning about them, exchanging business cards, and moving on is an accepted practice and M.O. of an effective networker. When exiting a conversation, politely express pleasure at having met the individual and the hope that you will meet again soon. Make a sincere offer to be of help in the future if you so choose.

When you smile, the whole world smiles with you. Leave your problems at the door and put on a smile. Studies show you are more approachable when you smile. If you’re more pproachable, you’ll meet more people… maybe even someone whose has a problem you can solve.

Nametag Nirvana.

Make conversations easier to begin. Hey You is never the best opener, so let others know your name and you can be more comfortable walking up to others and being able to call them by name.

Foster Relationships.

This forum is an opportunity to create a relationship and what you do today will serve as a foundation for efforts to further build. You need to put in the time and effort to demonstrate you are someone that people can get to know and develop a rapport with. Treating everyone you meet with respect will serve you well in networking.

Break Bread.

Meals are an opportune moment to get outside the confines of a conference and allow free dialogue. If there are opportunities to enjoy meals out on the town plan ahead and reserve a private table at a decent local restaurant. Always seek to avoid anything high priced, unless of course you are picking up the check for all! During the conference invite others to join you and ask them to bring a guest. This way you can ensure you meet new people. Encourage everyone on your team to play the host role and pull together a dinner out.

Spouse Support.

Each time you are attending an event and bringing a spouse or significant other, make sure to brief them on the people they will be meeting. Ensure that your better half understands what you do and can articulate it to others. You will double your impact if he/she can sing your praises as well!

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