YES-- it is true that Networking is an art that must be mastered. However, for those of you that are new to the networking game and the art of mastering it, please READ ON. While you do not want to be in a position at social function of hanging with the same person all night, if you really want to make your network work for you, there are some surefire tactics that you must employ. Networking is much more than simply handing out your business/calling card and moving to the next 'target' in the room. I am always so surprised by the number of people that exchange business cards and do not take advantage of the possibility of creating an instant marketing campaign.
They hand over their business card, say a few words and move on without leaving an impression that would inspire you to tell others about them. Get away from the fallacy of believing that networking is about who you know. Master networkers know that the true power in your network is really about WHO KNOWS YOU! Learn to engage in meaningful dialogue with others and you will rapidly multiply the dispersion of your message. Going home with a pocket full of business cards is no indication of how strong your network is. You must implement strategies that will not only facilitate building a good network of people that know you but also create solid alliances with others.
Below are 5 strategies that have helped me grow personally, professionally and take my businesses to new heights! Try one, two or all of them and be sure to drop me a note and share your success story. I would love to feature it in my next newsletter.
-GRAB their Attention and Make'em Want to Listen!
Master your 30-second introduction! You must have something to say and know how to say it quickly and with impact! If you do not have the ability to articulate the brand you call you, get it in order before your next network mixer. There are three simple steps to creating a 30-second introduction. Don't miss the opportunity to have people know who you are by being unprepared to get their attention. If you missed my article last week, drop me a note and I'll get it to you ASAP.
-Business/Calling Card Buzzzzz!
Put your business/calling cards to work for you! Business/calling cards are at the heart of the first introduction that you make with others. Ensure that your business card serves as a true marketing engine for you. Take the time to design an impressive card with a tagline or message that will get attention and make people want to contact you. Try using the front and back of the card to get your message across, however do not cram in too much information - leave some "white space." Business cards with visual clarity are more likely to be read AND kept for future reference.
-Use Reverse-Networking not Empty Dialogue!
Don't waste your time or anyone else's with fruitless conversations that lead to nowhere! After giving your 30-second introduction, spark a dialogue that shows you have a true interest in understanding what it is that person does. This works much better than simply exchanging business cards and talking about yourself the entire time. Learn to ask probing questions-- something as simple as "So tell me what it is that you do" and following it up with "Hmmm, that sounds interesting, tell me more" is enough to initiate a meaningful not empty dialogue. People love it when you truly take an interest in what they have to offer. Besides this creates a memorable experience and when you contact them AFTER the event, you will have plenty of focused and dedicated time to really talk about what you do. It's a reverse networking tactic that has not only helped me build a network of people that know me but create some very meaningful alliances with others as well.
-Use the 'Power of Introduction' to Extend that Buzzzz about You!
Take advantage of the "Stick and Move" strategy to create more buzz about you! Now that you understand and know something about the person that you just met, introduce them to someone else in the room that you know. Not only will you make a memorable (stick) impression, but it also allows you to make a brief introduction and keep it movin'. If you are a lone ranger and do not know anyone else at the event YET, let the person know that you will be following up with them in a few days because you have a colleague that you would like to introduce them to. Now?.you are really starting to have people know WHO YOU ARE and creating alliances with others as well.
-Implement a Follow-up Campaign!
Get people to really know who you are! If you find that you are handing out plenty of business/calling cards but your phone isn't ringing ? there could obviously be several factors that contribute to this. However, one may very well be that you do not have an effective follow-up strategy ? if you employ one at all! Following up with those that you meet is imperative and may very well be the one strategy that gets you closer to your ultimate goal. Do not make a big deal out of follow-up. This only leads to procrastination and no follow-up. A quick and simple email a few days after the event just to express your pleasure in having met and extending an official invitation to keep in touch. That's it! Now you have started to establish an open AND welcomed relationship that could blossom into something at the NextLevel ? whatever that level may be for you!
Felicia Davis is the Founder and Chief Visionary of WomenCEO Network ? a membership based organization for female entrepreneurs. To learn more about the network, please visit the website at http://www.women-ceo.com.
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