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The Secrets of Effective Networking

Before we talk about specific networking tips I want to addressa critical aspect of networking that is often overlooked. Sometimes we are so eager to network that we don't stop toconsider whether or not we are investing our energy in theright places.

Listen, you can go to all of the networking meetings under thesun and collect hundreds of business cards while you're at itbut if you're not hanging out with people you can do businesswith, you might make some new friends, you won't necessarilygrow your business.

If you want to grow your business by networking it isimperative that you network with: people who are your idealclients, people who know your ideal clients, and/or people whodo business with your ideal clients. It's that simple. Sobefore you sign up for your next networking event, ask yourselfif it is a good fit for your business.

When you network with people who need your products/services(or know others who do) there will be a natural interest inknowing more about your business. Stop, not so quick ? thestory of you and your business comes later. First, let's walkthrough what happens at a networking event and I will give youa tip for each step.

Step 1: Meeting People

Enter the room with confidence, stand up straight and smile. Look for a friendly face and introduce yourself. If you don'tsee an opportunity to meet someone right away don't panic. Asure fire way to strike up a conversation is to get in a line(to sign in, for food, for drinks, for the restrooms). You canalso approach the person hosting the event and ask for anintroduction. In addition, if the list of attendees isavailable prior to the meeting you can identify someone youwould like to meet and approach someone to ask if the personyou are looking for is at the meeting.

Step 2: Getting to Know People - The Ed Principle

Instead of trying to be interestING (focusing on the 'ing') beinterestED (focus on the 'ed') in the person you are talkingwith. You don't have to worry about what you will say (exceptfor your brief pitch which comes later). In fact, you can makeit a goal to talk as little as possible, I promise you will beremembered as a marvelous conversationalist. Memorize thisphrase: 'Tell me more about...' and use it! Just relax, beyourself and listen.

Step 3: Giving First

Yes I know, the reason you are networking in the first place isbecause you want to get something. You want to meet more ofyour ideal clients and meet people who can refer to your idealclients. But don't forget, networking is a two way street. Itis about building relationships. I know you have somethinginteresting to share, so why not give first? Perhaps you canrecommend a great book or website, share an article, or maybeyou can make a valuable introduction.

Step 4: Your Perfect Pitch

Eventually the person you are talking with may ask you what youdo, so be ready! Don't ramble on about how long you have beenin business or how your business process works. Do prepare afabulous, short, and memorable pitch (10-30 seconds long) thatclearly communicates what you do and for whom you do it.

Step 5: Ending a Conversation

Remember, all conversations must end at some point so don't beafraid to politely excuse yourself and thank the person for hertime. Reasons to wrap up can include going to get anotherdrink, something to eat, going to the restroom, or needing totalk with someone before they leave. Whatever the reason, behonest and be genuine.

Step 6: Follow Up and Follow Through

This one is so simple and important yet somehow it frequentlygets ignored. If you promise to do something (call, send anarticle, make an introduction) do it!

Think about making use of these networking tips the next timeyou plan to do some networking. The truth is people dobusiness with people they know, like, and trust. This occursover time and is all about building relationships, not aboutcollecting business cards. Be yourself, be real and have fun!

(c) 2005 Stephanie Ward

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