3 Networking Must-Do's

16 Jan

I was in Westboro, MA earlier this week attending the Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce‘s networking night.  The event was very well attended by local businesses with over 350 attendees mingling amongst the food, drinks and violin trio.  Very nice, very professional.  Best of all, I caught up with 2 Inquisix members, Rick and Brigitte.  Both knew the Inquisix story and articulated our benefits to other Chamber members.  Thanks!

Now that it’s been a few days since the event, I’m reminded again that many people attend these networking events without a plan.  Do they just show up for the free hors d’oeuvres and open bar?

Three (and only three) MUST-do’s at networking events:

  • Show Up – A surprising number of people attend these events and aren’t prepared.  Showing up means more than arriving.  Did you bring enough business cards to hand out?  Did you bring a pen to jot notes on the back of the cards you receive?  Can you articulate your message in 5 seconds?  There’s too much noise to get a 30 second elevator pitch across so get your message down to 5 seconds.  But the ones who had their 5 second pitch down?  Those people I remember!
  • Follow-up – Even more surprising is the number of people who exchanged cards and never follow up.  Again, why bother showing up?  Why not a simple email, “I enjoyed meeting you at the Chamber event last night and hearing what you do.  I had a chance to look at your website this morning.  Look forward to connecting to you at a future event.  All the best.”  That message is appropriate even if you don’t think the other person can help you.  Because you just never know when someone you’ve met will reach out to you.  Again, the people with the best 5 seconds all reached out to me later this week.
  • Give to Get – Still a shame with all the networking tips freely available on the web that people forget that giving begets getting.  The most active man in the room was Rick.  He spent his time introducing people in the room to each other.  If they had trouble articulating their message, he helped them.  If they forgot the first step in following up (collecting business cards), he gently offered his as a reminder.  Did Rick spend any time telling people what he did?  No, he led by example.

3 simple to-do’s.  No, 3 simple must-do’s.

4 Responses to “3 Networking Must-Do's”

  1. The RainMaker Maker January 17, 2009 at 7:27 am #

    Michael, Thank you. I’ve never seen the three must-do’s articulated so well. There were many in the room that are great networkers, but I appreciate the fact that I made it into the post.

  2. Adrian Miller January 18, 2009 at 9:30 am #

    LOVE this. Thought you might be interested in something I published on my blog right on this topic but from another slant:

    Would the year be complete without a top ten list to countdown? To ring in the New Year, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten networking gaffes. Of course, we’ve all been guilty of one of two of these over the years, but if you’re consistently making these faux pas, you’re missing out on valuable business opportunities.

    As we continue to deal with a challenging economy, downsizing, and other less than pleasant business realities, networking has become more important than ever. This “Top Ten” is a reminder of what not to do in 2009 to increase your networking success.

    Number 10 – Not Saying Thank You to the Person Who Made the Introduction
    An introduction is a gift. Treat it as such. Thank the person who gave it to you, regardless if it leads to a sale or not.

    Number 9 – Not Following Up with Introduction in a Prompt Manner
    We’re all busy, but following up with an introduction should always be prioritized. Without a timely follow-up, you are sending a clear message that you don’t care, and you very well could miss out on a potentially lucrative opportunity.

    Number 8 – Blowing off an Introduction Because You Don’t Think They’re Worthy
    Don’t ever make assumptions when it comes to introductions. Often times, it’s those that seem the least plausible that become the most valuable to you. Keep your mind open and treat every introduction equally.

    Number 7 – Not Taking the Time to Learn About the Introduction
    Do your homework before you pick up that phone. By learning about the introduction beforehand, you’ll have a good foundation for determining how you can help each other.

    Number 6 – Being Overbearing or Overreaching
    Just as you don’t say “I love you” on a first date, don’t scare away an introduction with being too aggressive. Take your time to determine ways to best work together and let your relationship flourish.

    Number 5 – Not Reciprocating with Introductions
    Networking is most definitely a two-way street. You should be providing your contacts with as many, if not more leads, than you are receiving.

    Number 4 – Being Dishonest About Who You Know
    There is no point in bragging about untrue big-wig contacts to impress others. Once they figure out that you’re all talk and no action, you’ll lose credibility and the real contacts who can generate real sales.

    Number 3 – Not Closing the Loop
    Oops! Did you forget to keep the person who made the introduction up-to-date? This is one of the most common and easy-to-make gaffes. By keeping them in the loop, you’re expressing your appreciation for their networking efforts.

    Number 2 – Not Thinking Out of the Box
    Develop some networking creativity. Explore new ways to work together and offer unconventional leads. Sometimes, the least likely relationships are the most productive of all!

    Number 1 – Not Realizing How Important Networking Is For Business Development
    You’re not an island. You need the assistance of others, and they need your assistance. Every business requires new customers and new opportunities, and networking is simply the most cost-efficient, most effective way to grow your business.

  3. Dulcita Love February 6, 2009 at 7:01 pm #

    Great tips on networking. Thank you! Dulcita Love @dulcitalove on Twitter

  4. Michael Kreppein March 2, 2009 at 6:27 pm #

    Ivan Misner of BNI has a list of 10 Networking Commandments from his colleague, Melinda Potcher.

    http://networking.entrepreneur.com/2009/02/24/the-10-commandments-of-business-networking/

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