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Networking Tips

By Barry Siskind

Most of us are used to certain comfortable patterns in our business lives. However, working a room at a conference or networking event stretches this comfort zone to encompass new skills and techniques. To win in today's marketplace we have to be constantly looking for business and taking advantage of opportunities whenever they occur.

1. Before the Event

  • Plan ahead. Learn about the event and who will be there.
  • Set your goals. What do you want to accomplish at the event both personally and professionally.
  • Prepare yourself with positive self talk. To overcome any anxiety, ask yourself "What is the worst thing that can happen and can I handle it?"
  • Prepare your self introduction. Plan a sentence or two to give people a positive experience of you.

2. At the Event

  • Your entrance. Take a deep breath, stand tall and move into the room with confidence.
  • The buddy system. Use a colleague to introduce one another around and develop a rescue system.
  • Name tags. Place your name tag on your right side.
  • Business cards. Remember your business cards but hand them out discriminately after you have established rapport.
  • Opening lines. Plan an opening line in the form of an upbeat observation, or an open ended question.
  • Breaking and entering. Approach groups of three or more. When you feel yourself included through verbal acknowledgment or eye contact, join the conversation.
  • Disengaging. Remember you are supposed to circulate. You should spend no more than 5-6 minutes with one person.

3. After the Event

  • Follow up within 7 days of the event.
  • Send a handwritten note acknowledging your meeting
  • Provide feedback on actions you have taken as a result of your interaction
  • Continue to look for opportunities to develop new contacts and manage old ones.

Barry Siskind is President of International Training and Management, a training company specializing in exhibitor training and business networking. He is the author of Making Contact and The Successful Exhibitor. E-mail or call 1-800-358-6079.

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