Remember the Six Degrees of Keven Bacon game? It was based on the six degrees of separation theory, which poses that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart. Well, networking can help you become Kevin Bacon in your work space. Last spring I wrote about joining the LinkedIn party to network online, but we all know that face-to-face networking is an important part of the mix as well. The opportunities are endless and just taking the time to sort through the organizations, opportunities and meet-ups is time consuming. However, it is necessary and beneficial to become a master at the networking opportunity.
Here are some steps to keep you focused and meaningful:
- Set Goals – Make weekly or monthly goals around attending networking events or follow up coffees on a regular basis.
- Fits like a glove – Find the right events for you. When researching organizations, beware that they can be expensive to join. Visit the meeting 2-3 times before committing to join. Another great source for different kinds of events in your area is Eventbrite.com.
- Here to Serve – When you do find a good fit with any organization, get involved on a committee or volunteer to do a job during the meeting itself. Take on positions that will allow you to become known by more people.
- Meet and Greet – When at the meeting, introduce yourself first to those you want to meet, then follow up with a question, such as what they thought about the program or how they are connected to the organization. Don’t stand around and talk to those with whom you came.
- Two ears, one mouth; use them proportionally – Ask open ended questions then be quiet. Talking less allows you to listen and learn more.
- Short and sweet – Have a brief “elevator speech” prepared to describe your business or service. Make sure you use every word carefully and powerfully.
- Pay it forward – As you meet new people, aim to think of connections you can make for the person to whom you are speaking. People will naturally want to help you as well.
- Follow up and follow thru – Take all the business cards collected and connect on social media or email. Schedule for a brief coffee follow up.
- Patience, my dear – Remember it is a process. Chances are you won’t walk away with immediate new clients or customers from your next networking event. However, you are building a brand name, circulating word of your services in the community and making key contacts. People like to do business with people they like and know.
Any other networking tips to share?
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