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Top Tips: Networking and How to Work a Room

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E-mail: Judith Bowman

Top Tips: Networking and How to Work a Room
Capitalize on attendance at business/social networking events.

  1. Obtain a copy of the guest list:
    • review names, so you are familiar with those attending
    • practice difficult to pronounce names in order to say a particularly challenging first and/or last name correctly, fluidly.
    • Research the company/individual/s – go in to their Media page and learn about a new product release or, an impending merger/acquisition .. there are many, these days .. so that when you meet Mr./Ms. X, you have questions of substance to ask. What else do you, take the time, go to the trouble, make the effort to learn about in advance, practice, “master,” execute? Bottom-line: I trust you, I want to do business with you!

  2. Eat something first.

  3. Wear appropriate attire: a jacket with large pockets – for men and women: one for incoming, one for outgoing business cards.

  4. Have a “tag line” prepared for this specific venue.

  5. As soon as you arrive, go to the restroom: check everything – dandruff, stray hairs, buttons and zippers, teeth, pop a breath mint AND, wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap and DRY them thoroughly. This will help eliminate oils, which tend to encourage clammy hands, which are of course, the Kiss of Death!

  6. Name badges: go on your right side because as people extend their hand to shake yours, the line of sight is to the other person’s right side.

  7. Hold glasses in your LEFT hand, with the first three fingers, and always with a cocktail napkin. This leaves your right hand free to SHAKE HANDS.

  8. Approach singles, groups of 3 or more.

  9. Sit at i.e. a cabaret table and eat, only if the person you are speaking with is eating. Be selective about the food you take. Avoid difficult to eat foods; opt for anything on a toothpick.

  10. Invest approximately 3-5 .. 7 minutes maximum, per person is the rule of thumb.

  11. Disengage gently, tactfully, and never promise anything you do not mean, i.e. “I’ll be right back” when you know you will not. Rather, “thank you for your time .. I have enjoyed our conversation .. There are a few people I need to speak with on the other side of the room. If we do not reconnect this evening, perhaps we might catch-up within the next few weeks… or months. .. or, years!” - leaving this open-ended. Say what you mean and mean what you say. And finally, make the attempt to introduce this individual to another before leaving, so you do not leave them alone.

  12. Take advantage of this opportunity to be seen in a positive light. Make the effort to approach senior level individuals you might not normally have the opportunity to meet and introduce yourself. Congratulate them on the company’s growth or, on achieving critical milestones; let them know you are pleased to be part of their team!

  13. Remember, whoever initiates the handshake, the eye-contact, the conversation – a skill, … initiatives, acquires and maintains CONTROL – always the goal, as you endeavor to grow the relationship.

  14. Small talk is really “huge talk;” anything out is fair game for small talk conversation.

  15. Never ask a very senior person for their business card – they will not have one and, it may create an awkward moment.

  16. Never assume anyone wants your business card – always ask, “may I offer you my card?” or, “may I ask for your card?”

  17. Conversation skills are powerful. Ask open-ended questions. Be up on company and global current events, recommend a great book, etc.

  18. The most important element of working the room is to walk confidently, authoritatively through the room, as if this is your event, as if you own the room!

  19. Walk guests to the door – Nuance: outside, if possible, when leaving and, thank them for attending; thank hosts for inviting you.

  20. Write a personal note of thanks (on your personal stationery) to those you met and, your host, following the event; personalize each note. You have made personal notes about individuals quietly, on the back of business cards.

  21. Resist the urge to attend any networking event looking for only: “what’s in it for me?” Rather, consider and position yourself as a resource. Ask, “how can I help you?” Suddenly, you are connected!
Know, that “working a room” is work and, an Art. ... one must be practiced, rehearsed, refined and, ultimately,  mastered in order to help advance professionally. Preparation is key!

“90% of success is showing up!” 
-Woody Allen

…. That places a large emphasis on that 10% of ‘what to do while you are there’.
Networking is huge.  Remember, you are not invited anywhere because someone thinks you need to be fed.  Rather, you were invited for one of two reasons:  someone wants to thank you for your business/prospective business or, someone thinks you have something to contribute.  Networking is an opportunity and perhaps the most valuable activity one can do to advance one’s self and, their firm; preparation is key.  
Tel: 508-888-7800   E-mail: Judith Bowman

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