Speed Networking and Beyond

Conduct the exercise as a mini interview

2. Conduct the exercise as a mini interview. Think in terms of what you can find out about the person you're meeting. That'll allow you to help further the goals of that individual. Forget about mining her database or trying to determine who she knows to further your goals. In working to mutually benefit one another, ask questions that'll clarify where and how you can best help your new referral source.

3. Make notes during the exercise. If you're not provided some type of contact card on which you can jot notes while in the exercise, be sure to use your own pad of paper to write down the information you discover. Be sure to note the person's interests and goals you could help achieve.

4. Follow up. If you don't follow up with those you meet during the speed networking exercise, you will only have succeeded in wasting your time--which is exactly what you were trying to avoid by attending the event in the first place. Collect the business cards of each person you sit with during the exercise. The magic happens after the exercise, in the weeks and months to come.

Set appointments with each person, not to convince them they need your product, but with the intention of becoming better acquainted, finding out what their needs are and how you can positively impact their lives. You'll realize the reason you went to the speed networking exercise in the first place: to develop more referral business.

I believe speed networking can work if it's done the right way. It can be a fun, energetic and dynamic way to further your own goals of having a thriving, successful word-of-mouth-based business.

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The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Ivan Misner is founder and chairman of BNI, a professional business networking organization headquartered in Upland, Calif. He is co-author, with Hazel Walker and Frank De Raffele, of Business Networking and Sex: Not What You Think (Entrepreneur Press, 2012).

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