By Phil Stella
Professional association events can really fill up your days and nights with networking opportunities this time of year. You could easily attend 10 breakfast, lunch, dinner or happy hour events every week, gain 100 pounds, and pick up lots of business cards.
But strategic networking isn’t a numbers game – it’s based on focused activity to accomplish specific information objectives. So define your networking objectives, choose your events wisely, and prepare to make that best possible first impression. Networking with class and style is both very simple AND very easy. So, embrace these 10 best practices to clearly differentiate you from the amateurs.
1. Talk less and listen more, especially when you listen intensely to other people’s words, their tones of voice, and their nonverbal messages.
2. Avoid talking too much, especially about you. The more they talk about themselves, the more they like you.
3. Tell less and ask more good questions about them and what they do.
4. Ask for their card at the end of a brief conversation so you can follow up … not at the beginning of it.
5. Ask permission to give them your card if they don’t ask for it rather than automatically handing it to them.
6. Wait to take a seat until the meeting is just about to start and ask permission to join those already seated.
7. Exit a conversation politely but quickly with a boring, unfocused or annoying person. Your time is valuable and you could be meeting someone else.
8. Introduce people you meet to others you knowto help them network easier.
9. Ask if this is a good time for them in the first 15 seconds of your follow-up phone call.
10. Respect their time by keeping your phone conversation short, focused, and interesting
These techniques take so little time or effort but do so much to impress other people that you are a networking pro. They clearly see that buy-in to Dr. Tony Alessandra’s “Platinum Rule” and treat other people the way they want you to treat them. So, commit to network with class and style at every event you attend.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication and is a popular speaker on networking and workplace communications. He is also on the Cleveland faculty at the University of Phoenix and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. He can be reached at (440) 449-0356, firstname.lastname@example.org or http://communicate-confidently.com.
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