I’m not sure what Mom would have to say about networking in this day and age, but I can tell you that things aren’t like they used to be. If you’re re-entering the professional world after a few years away, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that things are not quite the same as they were when you left. Everything is faster, social media now rules, and people don’t have the time or the patience for hand-holding.
Yes, this is the age of social media, but don’t let go of time tested face to face networking. So how do you show up to network? Do you scramble to put together an outfit at the last minute, or do you carefully select one based on the job/sale you’re hoping to get? So as you head out the door with your business cards in hand, make sure you...
* Set an intention or goal before you leave your home or office.
* Your breath smells fresh.
* Eat before you go. You’re not there to eat, you’re there to network!
* If you feel the need for a prop, hold a drink. Just make sure it’s in your left hand, so that your right hand is free to shake hands, and you won’t end up having to wipe away the moisture from the glass before shaking someone’s hand.
* Your elevator pitch is ready and that you can you recite it clearly and fluently.
* Circulate. Don’t stick to people you already know until you meet enough new people.
* Assess who’s at the event and make the effort to meet people you don’t already know, particularly the 'movers and the shakers'. You know, the ones surrounded by people!
*If you’re uncomfortable meeting new people, ask the host or someone you know to make the initial introduction.
The bottom line is this: It's not about how many cards you collect or hand out, it's about engaging with people and forming relationships. Networking is an excellent way to get your name out there and to meet people who can help you succeed in your business, regardless whether you’re in sales or looking for a job. So relax, have fun, and remember to focus on your goal and your nervous energy should subside. This is one time you can forget about Mom’s advice about not talking to strangers. Afterall, strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet!