The Fine Art of Networking

July 20, 2011

Well there is that word again... networking. You know you are supposed to do it; it's good for business they say! However, showing up unprepared is often worse than not showing up at all.

Here is a quick and dirty checklist to make sure you are ready to make the right first impression while you are "pressing the flesh".

Business Cards

Do have nice business cards that represent you and your business in the right light? If yes, bring lots - if no, talk to someone who can design a professional one.

Dress appropriately for the location

A suit is just a suit and looks overdone in a casual setting. My rule of thumb is always - dress for what you will be doing - so ladies, pumps on the 18th green for a cocktail mixer are a no-no.

Go as a team

Your confidence amplifies when you have a wingman. Traveling in pairs helps you work the room more efficiently. Just don't get stuck chatting about current projects instead of meeting new contacts.

Listen, don't just talk

People like to talk about their business. Let them - you will learn more about someone if you let them get a word in edgewise.

Don't be a greeter

Unless this is your event, make sure you are mixing in with the rest of the group. Standing at the front greeting with one hand and presenting a business card with the other comes across as forced and insincere.

I could give you 100 ideas on networking for your business, but these are the basics. Relax, have a good time, and chat with people. Relationship building is one of the easiest (and often more rewarding) ways to bring in new business and look for cooperative opportunities with other businesses.

Plus, it’s one of the few times we can have wine at work - just saying...

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