How To Network A Lifelong Web Of Business Associates – Using The Following Ten Tips

Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), Nichomachean EthicsThere was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.
Rebecca West (1892 – 1983)Do you fear networking? Does the thought of walking into a room of strangers, at a business network function, make you freeze in fear? Break out in a cold sweat? Make you want to quit your job and move to Alaska, rather than attend? Sadly, you are not alone. Many people believe that “networking” is a dirty word. It conjures up images of a bunch of people in suits frantically grabbing each other’s business cards, in the hopes that they will get “business” from them. Many people mistakenly assume that networking is simply about drumming up business when it is really about so much more than that. What follows are some tips to help you through your next “networking” event.Successful networking is really no different than how you made friends as a kid. It is not all about “getting” business; instead, it is about building relationships and lasting friendships. In fact, if you are successful at networking, you will likely find yourself with friends all over the world. If you do get business out of it, that should be considered a bonus. Consider networking to be like the movie “Pay it Forward” and you can see how networking can be fun and dramatically increase the joy in your life. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend that you rent it. It is about how one good deed can change the world, and how you look at it.So, how do you successfully attend a networking event? You first goal for the evening is to shoot for quality over quantity. Your second goal should be to have fun and think of it as a game.Tip # 1 – Relax! The first thing to remember when you walk into a room is that everyone is there for the same reason; to meet others, to have fun and to socialize. Most people are not thinking about anything other than themselves. They are thinking “do I look ok”, “is that person staring at me”, “did I lock my front door?” Most people attending an event are feeling nervous or unsure of themselves; if you remember that, the game is halfway won. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so if you are shy, ask them a question and then just listen. Try to find a connection with every person you meet.Tip #2 – Quantity vs Quality. You want to walk out of each event with at least one to three people’s cards with whom you would like to have further contact. Remember it is about building relationships. You may interact with more people by “working the room”; but, by moving too fast you are less likely to connect and that is what it is all about.Tip # 3 – Be confident. Prior to walking into an event, pause, smile and give yourself a compliment. Pull your shoulders back and walk in with self confidence and strength of character. Act like who you want to meet. Pause at the door, sign in and introduce yourself. While you are doing this, discreetly scan the room and see if you can locate anyone you know. If you do, walk over to that person, and without interrupting merge into the group, while smiling at your friend.Tip # 4 – Never interrupt when someone else is speaking. When a pause in the conversation occurs, wait briefly to see if your friend introduces you, if not, then with a smile introduce yourself to the group or give a comment. (If your friend, does not introduce you, do not take it personally, they may have forgotten your name and are squirming on the inside and will be grateful to you for saving them!)Tip # 5 – Be polite about extricating yourself from the group. Do not ask for anyone’s business card at that moment. If after a few minutes you find that the group is not sparking a cord with you, slowly drift away. Give an excuse, you are going to get a drink, offer to get others one, you need the restroom, you get the picture. Use comfort as your guide.A good networking meeting is like the ocean at high tide; people drift around and meet each other. There should be a definite ebb and flow of people.Tip # 6 – Watch others’ body language. If you are feeling uncomfortable, then walk away. Not all men want women to join them in their conversations, and not all women want men to join them in their conversations.Tip # 7 – Towards the end of the meeting, briefly connect with the ones that interested you and politely ask them for their card. Give them yours IF they ask for it. Sometimes, you may need to interact with the person several times before they ask for your card. Never force your card on someone. That could backfire and you could lose a potential contact and/or friend.Tip # 8 – Once you have left the event, jot on the back of each card something you remember about that person. You will need this for tip #9.Tip # 9 – Make follow up contact. The most important thing to do when creating your net is to ensure that the next day you follow up with everyone you met. Drop an email, give them a call, or drop them a card. Try to give them something they want by referring them to something or someone. If someone was talking about a certain subject, send them a link to a website they might like, or refer them to an event, or even invite them for lunch or a coffee to discuss it further. On the first contact DO NOT ask them for anything concrete.Tip # 10 – Always leave your best impression. You never know what door someone might open for you.Remember, it is all about having fun. Each event will get easier, though the butterflies may never leave you! Good luck and have fun!