Ever since the girls were little, I would play this game with them: “Let’s pretend we are meeting for the first time; what would you do?” They would then shake my hand, look me in the eye and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I would explain to them it’s always important to look at people in the eye (at least in America it is) and give them a nice solid handshake (I hate “wet fish” handshakes). It’s a basic networking skill, but I know they will continue to be able to use it during their lifetime.
This week, I had the opportunity to attend a Long Island Marketing Professionals Group meeting to hear Geoffrey Mann (Lorraine Gregory Communications Group) speak about networking. Wow! Geoff is definitely a “Master of Networking” as well as a gifted salesman and storyteller. He was inspirational and shared helpful networking strategies. Here are a few of the highlights:
1 – Dress for Success : Early on in Geoff’s career, he worked at Playboy. When he inquired about the company dress code, he was told: ” We want you to dress as a lawyer, not as a playboy.” There is definitely a level of respect one commands when wearing a suit and it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.
2 – Business Card Exchange: Write down a few notes on the back of their business card to remember what you discussed including where and when you met them. A follow-up note can include some of those items to help you further build that relationship.
3 – Carry a “drink” in your hand, but don’t drink it: It just makes people feel more comfortable when they see you are also “drinking”.
4 – Don’t talk/text on your smart phone at networking events: This seems like a no brainer, but how can you network with others at an event if you are on the phone?
5 – Wing Man Networking: Take the current person you are talking with and ask them to accompany you to meet person X across the room. This technique will allow you to meet as many people as possible. We all have been through this at a networking event… you are speaking with someone and want to politely move on and talk to someone else. Now you have a “polite” solution. Take the current person you are networking with to the next conversation.
6 – Handwritten Thank You Note – With the world all about email and social media, a handwritten thank you note will make you stand out and shows you truly made an extra effort.
7 – Focus on the 3 A’s at a networking event :
Approach: Have your ten second intro and be concise and specific.
Attitude: Be positive. No one wants to spend time talking to someone who is negative.
Appearance: Dress for Success
8 – Always Use LinkedIn to your advantage: I am a firm believer in this one. If there is someone you know who will be at a networking event and you want to meet them, look them up on LinkedIn to see if there is a connection – people, work, school, interests, etc. Hopefully, they will also have their picture on their profile so you know what they look like. It’s amazing what you can find out about people on LinkedIn. It is the best online resource for professional networking.
Networking is definitely an art and not a science. I know many of these tips are sure to help you at your next networking event. Have a great day!