One of the best ways to keep the doors of opportunity open is to ensure the flow of prospects, events and leads. You must constantly expand your network of contacts and think of them as an investment with which you can hope to someday collect a return. This process has been recently coined “Net-Weaving” rather than networking.
Help your quest to expand your woven network of prospects by following these guidelines:
1) When walking into a crowd, the first step is to assess your opportunity for meeting people strategic to your goals. Doesn’t hurt to arrive a little late (but not too late so to be seen as rude) and scan the already full area and seek out the people you want to target.
2) Don’t be afraid to ask for introductions from people you already know; we’re all in this together. Make the most out of the introductions you DO receive without neglecting others in the crowd. Associate yourself with people who know a lot of people. But never assume that someone you have been introduced to cannot help you; they may actually be best friends with someone who can.
3) Always introduce yourself in a well-spoken manner and create a personal bond by shaking the other person’s hand. Wear your name tag on the right hand shoulder, as the eye will automatically fall onto that area when your right arm is extended.
4) Talk about yourself to emphasize your strong points and to look good, without hogging the conversation. Remember that nobody likes a showoff. Exude confidence, not cockiness.
5) It is important to ask questions and listen, since people love to talk about themselves. Find out more than their first name, as this information will always be useful for future reference. Remember, we have two ears and only one mouth; use accordingly.
6) Remember that people form an opinion, a first impression, of you within the first 90 seconds of meeting you and it takes an average of 20 more meetings for them to change their initial opinion. The introduction stage is of critical importance. You have only 1 1/2 minutes for them to see you in a favorable light.
7) Always give your hands something to do. Be aware to leave your right hand available for shaking at a moment’s notice, but be sure the left one isn’t left awkwardly lingering. If you don’t have pockets, hold a drink or a plate/napkin with something on it, even if you aren’t eating or drinking. This will also allow you to appear to have a purpose in case of any brief moments without a prospect in front of you.
8) Don’t be a business card pusher. Bring them with you, certainly. But be selective about handing them out… qualify your receiver before shoving a meaningless card in their hand. They’re going to throw it away unless ou’ve made a great impression and you’ve convinced them that they need it.