Back to Business | “Lions and Tigers and Networking, Yikes!”
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“Lions and Tigers and Networking, Yikes!”

“Lions and Tigers and Networking, Yikes!”

“Lions and Tigers and Networking, Yikes!”


Does the thought of getting out there and networking leave you cold?

If so, then read on..

Networking these days can mean anything from meeting someone for an informal interview to asking for an introduction to someone you’ve never met on LinkedIn.

They say that “true” networking really only happens in person, however a solid networking strategy includes both in-person and online activity.

So let’s take a look at some different forms of networking, and tips for success:

  1. In-person networking:

    One-on-One:

  • Be clear on what you’d like to accomplish in your meeting before you ask for it.
  • Research the person you’ll be meeting with beforehand. You can use Google or LinkedIn to find out more about them. This will give you a good idea of their history, and time to develop a few “talking points” and questions.
  • Remember that you’ve asked for their time, so use it wisely. When you sit down, ask how much time you’ll have together. The speed of your conversation will vary greatly if they tell you that they only have ½ hour.
  • Have a business card and/ or resume to hand to them.
  • Ask open-ended questions like “Tell me what you do?” or, “How did you get started”? “or “What new projects are you working on?” or “Who is your ideal client?” or, “How are you growing your business this year”?
  • If you check your watch, be sure to let them know that it’s because you want to respect their time.
  • Begin with finding out more about them.
  • Try to find points in common.
  • Be professional and avoid “TMI” (too much information”) in the first meeting. While they want to learn about you, they do not need to know your life story.
  • If there are any follow- up items, be sure to recap them before the meeting ends.
  • Be sure to thank them for their time, and follow up promptly with either with an email or hand- written note. Hand-written notes are the most impressive.

“Group” Networking:

This can be anything from a meeting at BNI, a local Chamber of Commerce meeting,                    or Special Interest Group (a Mom’s Club, a Committee, etc.)

  • Research the group beforehand. Are they entrepreneurs? Stay-at-home Moms? Local Business people?
  • What’s the mission of the group?
  • You can usually expect to be asked to stand up and introduce yourself. Most people hate this part for themselves, but we all like to hear what others have to say.
  • Know what message you want to convey about yourself- be prepared with your “elevator pitch”. This is the 30-60 second summary of what you’re all about.
  • Tailor your “elevator pitch” for the group, in terms of the value you can bring to the group.
  • Prepare for this as you would prepare for a speech, because it really is a “micro-speech”. So plan it and practice it. Your elevator pitch should include:

o        Your name and business

o        The type of resultsyou get for your clients

o        Why your’e offering is different.

o        How what you offer could potentially benefit them and their clients

o        Don’t be afraid to show your personality!

       If you feel nervous about in- person networking:

  • Try shifting your focus outward, to the other person or people. Think of ways you could help them. Sometimes, when you get down to it, you’ll find that you can help them more than they can help you!
  • Remember they have no intention of judging you; they simply want to learn more about you and in a networking group, they’re trying to figure out how they can helpyou.
  • As you’re talking with someone, remember to be kind. You may not realize this, but just about everyone has something difficult going on in their lives- they could have a sick parent or child, they could have recently had their heart broken, their business could be in trouble~ You just never know, and in a networking environment, you probably won’t. But there is always something going on for them.

Remember to be kind.

       In-Person Networking Etiquette: It’s all in the details!

  • Dress professionally.
  • Get there early.
  • Check your appearance, both front and back using a hand mirror.
  • Wash your hands to avoid a clammy handshake.
  • Give a firm handshake.
  • Make great eye contact.
  • Pronounce your name clearly and repeat theirs.
  • Smile.
  • Wear your nametag on your right lapel.
  • Respect their personal space.
  • Listen, and think of ways you could help them.
  • Turn your cell phone OFF before the meeting. Better yet, leave it in the car.
  1. Online, or “Social” networking:

Like it or not, it’s here to stay, and it’s a very important component of your overall networking strategy. Online or “social” networking can be a great way to develop “warm leads”, make new connections and find people you may have lost track of.

  • Learn the online “thing”. Explore LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • LinkedIn is considered the most professional of online networking tools.
  • Be aware of, and be careful of whom you network with.
  • Keep it clean! (click here to read more)
  • Do NOT use it as a sales tool. That’s the fastest way to be removed from someone’s list.
  • Online networking should not be your sole networking “tool”.

         If online networking seems daunting to you:

  • Take a class. There are many LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter classes available online. Back to Business will have our own online classes, soon!
  • Some of the classes are better than others, and have different focuses, so take more than one.
  • Play with it, and form a “buddy group” that can practice sending introductions, asking for introductions, etc. before you “go live”.
  • It’s ok to start small, but do get started. Don’t be self-conscious. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere.
  • Keep your content professional, and never post anything that you wouldn’t be proud to see on a billboard, with your picture attached!
  • Learn about and use privacy settings.
  • A professional picture helps, particularly when you’re in job search “mode”

Hopefully, these tips have been helpful to you. If you have any questions, or feedback, please feel free to contact me directly at lwaters@backtobusiness.org.

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