Tips for successful networking
• Know Your Target Audience: It makes no sense to stick with an organization if, after a few events, its members have no need for your services. “I had one client, a man, who joined a women’s group because that was his audience,” says Ms. Kennedy-Edwards. “He was a big hit and it was easy for him to network.”
• Power Up: Wearing an outfit that makes you confident can boost your comfort level.
• Keep One Hand Free: The bar and buffet table offer the chance to look busy instead of just standing there. But a drink in one hand and plate in the other often requires a juggling act to complete a proper handshake. That greeting, she says, should be a “strong confident shake, not a wimpy wet noodle one. Gender makes no difference here. You should always shake hands when introducing yourself and you should shake both women and men’s hands.”
O’CONNOR • Glass Half Full: A near empty glass or plate provides the perfect excuse to exit a conversation that’s going no where. “It gives you an easy out.”
• Keep Business Cards Accessible: Skip awkward moments like fumbling through the purse or wallet by stashing business cards in an easy-to-reach pocket.
• Treat Business Cards as Valuable Commodities: It’s not a game to see how many business cards you can hand out during an event. “Your card is valuable,” says Ms. Kennedy-Edwards. “If you’re talking to someone who understands your needs and interests, they will likely indicate they want to stay in contact or ask you for a card.”
• Hello, My Name Is: New acquaintances are more likely to see your name if the ubiquitous name tag is on the right side and printed in a 24-point font size. “People shake with their right arm so the name tag is more visible on the right,” says Ms. Kennedy-Edwards.
• Ask Open-Ended Questions: Having an arsenal of questions to ask can help lessen anxiety. “People love to talk about themselves,” says Ms. Kennedy-Edwards. Ask how the person became interested in his or her career, what he likes about the business, how he differs from the competition and the type of client you might be able to connect him with. “It’s important to remember you’re there to help their business, too.”
• Follow Up: Whittle the pile of newly acquired business cards to just the contacts you’re truly interested in, but just like dating, wait a couple of days to reach out. “Calling right away can be aggressive or intimidating,” says Ms. Kennedy-Edwards. ¦