I attended a networking event last week where it became immediately clear to me that a few of the networkers I interacted with were not at all prepared. It really bothered me because, to be blunt, if you haven’t done the simple, basic preparations to network properly then you’re not only wasting your time, you’re wasting the time of the other networkers you talk to.
Preparing to network is not difficult; you simply need to follow these basic networking commandments:
* Have the proper networking tools with you (name badge, business cards, contact info of your referral partners).
* Set a reachable goal for the number of people you’ll meet, and then get all their cards.
* Act like a host, not a guest.
* Listen and ask questions.
* Don’t try to close a deal.
* Give referrals whenever possible.
* Spend roughly 10 minutes or so with each person you meet.
* Exchange cards and write notes on the backs of cards you get so that you are sure to remember people clearly.
* Follow up!
No matter how long you’ve been networking, it’s always good to remind yourself to consistently follow these steps. If you do, you’re sure to get the best possible results from your networking efforts. And other networkers, like myself, will thank you for making good use of their time.