An easy way to relax at a networking function is to take the focus off yourself by first listening to the other person. This technique also helps you gain insight as to how that contact can help you, making the connection that much stronger. It's not about collecting the most business cards; it's about collecting the right ones
Thank-you notes and quick follow-up to requests for information are little courtesies that mean a lot. Your professionalism will be noted, your calls returned and your referral business will blossom. It also signals to the parties involved that you are committed to success -- yours and theirs.
If you take advantage of all that networking has to offer, and if you have joined the right networking group, you'll find that suddenly, you seem much more visible. People will seek you out and recognize you as a valuable resource.
If you're networking correctly, you'll find you have more visibility, greater knowledge, and a wider circle of reliable contacts; and that you can leverage those assets to further your career. When it comes to networking though, there's more to consider than simply who you know. You have to think about who you DON'T know. And then find a way to get to know those people. Once you've exhausted your personal connections, it's time to focus on meeting some new faces.
No matter what your occupation, there's a professional organisation for you!
National and international professional associations often have local chapters where you can meet other professionals in your field. And most hold conferences and other events designed specifically for networking.
Professional organisations can also help you keep up-to-date on the latest developments in your industry. They often provide members with the latest industry news, trends and research as well as training and education. This information can come in very handy at network events.
Etiquette is important.
And perhaps nowhere more so than at networking events.
You may already know that networking events are one of the best ways to find job leads and expand your contacts. But attending events is only half the battle. You also need to know how to behave at them.
If you talk too much, say too little or arrive unprepared, you can ruin your chances to leave with a lead.
It isn’t a party
Remember why you're here.
The purpose of a networking event is to help you advance professionally. It's a social event -- but a professional one. Think of it as a conference social or a business dinner.
The cardinal rule of networking events: Never get drunk. We all remember what happened to Melanie Griffith in "Working Girl."
You want the people you meet to remember you as capable, competent and polished -- not as the person who was wearing a lampshade on their head at the end of the evening.
Dress appropriately. Err on the side of conservative and choose an outfit you could wear to a job interview. Your attire should say, "I'm a professional," not "I'm a party girl (or boy)." After all, you're not at a party.
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Blog by Bernie Cox, Training Co-ordinator