Ever heard the saying, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know? This statement rings true quite often. It refers to the fact that sometimes the more qualified individual doesn’t get the job over the less qualified individual who happens to know the right people. That is what I call the power of networking. The main focus of networking should be to establish professional connections that may produce advantageous results for one or both parties. Keep an open mind because you never know who you will meet!
I previously worked for an organization that hosted regular networking events. I was new to networking and found it to be very exciting. Over time, I realized that business communities are very tight knit and everyone knows everyone. Networking can be a scary thing for some people, especially as a beginner. It’s not easy putting yourself out there and introducing yourself to groups of people. It does get easier with practice, I promise!
Before attending a networking event it’s important to put thought into what you would like to achieve from attending the event. Think about setting goals for yourself, such as meeting industry specific contacts or connecting with possible future employers. Establish connections with other organizations that could use your products or services and vice versa.
Also, think about what you will say as a personal introduction. Your introduction will be your first impression and first impressions are lasting. Your introduction should be between 30 seconds to a minute in length. Introduce yourself and the company you work for or introduce your business if you are an entrepreneur. Briefly describe what you do and what you enjoy about your job. Don’t be afraid to be humorous or unique – your introduction doesn’t have to sound monotone or boring.
Always show interest in the other person you are connecting with. Be sure to ask questions and find common ground. You can use this information later when you follow up with the person. Following up with your new contacts is just as important as making the connection in the first place. Be sure to exchange business cards and don’t hesitate to call or send an email. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a positive and long-lasting business relationship.
At some networking events, companies have the opportunity to contribute goods and services as door prizes. This is a great way to get business exposure and to reach out to potential clients while giving back.
- Always bring business cards
- Always exchange business cards
- Dress to impress
- Smile, smile, smile
- Be aware of your own body language
- Use eye contact
- Exude confidence
- Ask questions
- Prepare your introduction ahead of time
- Be yourself
- Follow up
- Add new contacts on social networks to stay connected
– Trish MacMillan
Health, Wellness and Fitness, ’11
Follow Trish @TrishMacMillan