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You’re not alone Bill.  Networking is considered a necessary evil by many – but it doesn’t have to be this way.   A few pointers for you:

  1. Decide in advance of the event what you want to get from it.  Do you want to meet prospects?  How many? Potential business alliances?  New friendships? New job?  Be very clear about what you want to get for your investment of time. 
  2. Arrive prepared.  Prepare a 20-30 second professional “infomercial” which links to the reason you are there.  Be concise, be confident, be interesting.  Also bring plenty of business cards with you.  If you are not employed, print business cards with your personal contact information to distribute.  
  3. Look your best.  Make sure your appearance suits the occasion.  Dress and grooming are very important.  And either omit the cologne, or use sparingly.
  4. Act as though you are the host of the event.  It shifts your accountability from awkward mingling to a focused effort to attend to everyone in the room.  It also forces you to be confident, even if you have to fake it for the first 10 minutes.
  5. Smile!  and make eye contact.
  6. Ask questions to build rapport.  Listen.  Spend more time listening than talking.  People love to talk about themselves.  And they especially like people who will listen to them talk about themselves.   Likeability is important if you want people to hire you or do business with you.  Listen up, and you will boost your likeability quotient.
  7. Use open body language (uncrossed arms and legs).   Position your body/feet/face towards the person you are wanting to build rapport with.  Know that people who are standing sideways to you don’t want to be there with you (they are being polite).  So don’t hold them hostage, let those people go.  Be careful to not enter into anyone’s personal space (arm’s length distance).  Crossed arms and lack of eye contact will keep people away.
  8. When someone hands you their card, take a moment to look at it and acknowledge it.  It can often lead to a follow up question.  Do not just put it in your pocket without looking at the card first (it’s rude and dismissive).
  9. Notice details about people and your surroundings.  These are small talk cues.  Use them to get dialogue going and break the ice.
  10. Have fun!  Radiate warmth, charisma, and positive energy.  Not loud boastful energy, but calm confident energy.  It will attract people and put others at ease. 

Follow these tips Bill and you just may walk away thinking “that was a great event!”.   All the best to you …Deb

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