Rebecca Hart, owner of public relations firm Rebecca Hart Communications in Jacksonville, Florida, gives her clients a networking tip sheet. Here are some excerpts:
- "When you attend events, know ahead of time what you hope to accomplish. Then create goals for yourself. For example, you might want to collect a certain number of new business leads, or introduce yourself to a particular person. In addition, set goals for how much information you'd like to share."
- "Keep the candle burning. If you connect with someone and you're interested in pursuing the relationship, exchange business cards and take the initiative for the next step. For example, you could say, 'I'll send you that information we discussed.' Then follow through promptly and move the relationship forward by setting up a next meeting."
- "Don't think networking is limited to an event where you wear name tags. Every day you're networking. Use time-tested good business practices to build a good name for yourself: Be honest; underpromise and overdeliver; communicate frequently and effectively; offer extra value; generate referrals and concentrate on building positive relationships. No amount of networking will compensate for a poor reputation."
Dee Helfgott, who owns success coaching firm Dee Helfgott & Associates in Palm Desert, California, is also the author of two networking booklets, NetworkSmart: Turning Today's Contacts into Tomorrow's Opportunities ($6.95, self-published, 760-772-3335) and Listen Up! 80 Powerful Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Listening Skills ($5.50). Here, she offers tips on how to network smarter.
Best Ways To Introduce Yourself:
- Be brief, not a bore.
- Be upbeat, smile and make eye contact.
- Dress and speak professionally; show people you know how to listen.
Worst Ways To Introduce Yourself:
- Telling people more than they want to know about the details of your business, instead of discussing the ways they can benefit from doing business with you.
- Talking about yourself even after the listener's eyes glaze over.
Geoff Williams is a features writer and reporter for The Cincinnati Post. He often networks at classy social events, provided he can sneak past security.
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.