Networking Opens Doors To Infinite Possibilities
As we start 2017, I thought back to what would be my number one tip to building my business. My simple answer is networking. I discovered early on that it was through connecting with people regularly that I built relationships and through those relationships I was offered work.
So read on and learn my top tips to making networking work for you. Next week I’ll share with you, my simple tips to mastering the Art of Small Talk.
Rank rules supreme
When trying to decide who should be introduced to whom, remember that the most important person gets introduced to the other person. If both people are of equal rank, introduce the woman to the man to show courtesy, or simply introduce the first arrival or the person nearest to you. In large groups, people of equal ranking often introduce themselves to each other.
Add some background
If you are hosting an event, include a little background information on each person when you introduce them, especially if they have something in common. This will open up a conversation between those two and leave you free to talk to others.
It’s fine to ask about pronunciation
Many names today are not as simple as Mary, Paul or David. If you have been introduced to someone whose name sounds foreign to you or you missed the pronunciation, it is fine to ask to hear the name again. This is better than mistakenly calling someone by the wrong name, or using the wrong pronunciation.
It’s okay to admit that you cannot remember someone’s name.
Occasionally you will meet someone for the second or third time and have a blank on what their name is. Don’t pretend to remember their name, actually ask them what their name is by saying “My mind just went blank, can you remind me what your name is.” Or else you can say ‘your face is familiar, please remind me what your name is.”
Never point out that someone has forgotten your name.
If there are a few of you together and you are not introduced, it might be that a) the other person has no manners or b) they cannot remember your name. Let’s assume the later. You can extend your arm out to the person you have not met and say “Hi I’m X, I don’t believe we have met, and you are?.” This will release the person, who you expected to introduce you, from their obligations.
Never assume familiarity
Only use first names when you are invited to do so. If you are given a surname only, use it until invited to do otherwise.
Cards are a must…maybe
Always arrive at a network event with your business cards. If you are out of cards, run some basic cards through your printer before you leave for any event. The first two sentences were the original text for this point. I have recently discovered the magic of the phone app for opening conversations and sharing information. I personally use ‘scanbizcards’ (no this is not a paid advertorial I just like it). I scan in someone’s card after an event and have an automatic email I can send them. In some conversations, ifI’mm out of my own cards, I will scan the other person’s card and send a greeting directly from my phone. It gets an Oooh ahh and we can continue chatting about other gadgets we like to use – small talk tip.
It doesn’t have to be fancy
Business cards are an important part of business. At the very least, make sure you include on your card your name and a contact number. In the corporate market, you should also include your email address, a postal address and your business name. Here is where I also like to add keep them simple, Due to the app I use in the above tip, fancy cards can make scanning tricky and the details dont format well.
Keep your cards handy
There is no point in going to a network event in the hope of getting to know others and having your cards tucked away so safely it takes forever to get to them. The inside pocket of your jacket is ideal. For women, if you don’t have an inside pocket it is worth having one put into your jacket.
Separate your cards
When you receive another person’s card it is safest to put it in another pocket or space away from your own cards. It is very embarrassing to go to hand out one of your own cards only to give another person’s, especially if they are competition to the person you are talking to.
Keep it neat
No one wants to receive a nasty, dog-eared card. Your cards are a reflection of you, so keep them neat and clean.
Don’t waste space
You have two sides to your card. The front should have all of your relevant details; the back can be used as well. If you are dealing with international clients who speak another language, put all of your details in their language on the back. Alternatively, if your clients are local, use the back to give an idea about some of the work you do.
By this I don’t mean you to be stingy with your cards, but don’t hand them over just because you can. By all means strike up as many conversations as you can and exchange cards when it seems appropriate, but wait till you have at least had a conversation with someone and seen if there is any purpose in exchanging your cards.
Use it or lose it
Once again, it is not how many cards you have but what you do with them. Practise the act of follow-up and all will be worthwhile.
Depending on how your business operates, it is always nice to send a quick note the following day to the people you met. As this is not done that regularly it will make you stand out from the crowd.
Networking opens doors
Networking is a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ exercise. Good networkers always do better than people who stay at home or in their offices. It is through networking that you get to form social connections with people you may otherwise never have met.
Be open to opportunities for connection.
I have discovered that often the person I am speaking to is not my ideal client but someone they know is. With this in mind. Be memorable. If you know that you have no business compatibility, find out what they do need help with you. If you can be the catalyst to finding a solution for them, they are more likely to tell others how wonderful you are and guess what, you’ll have work coming from the most unexpected corners.
Lastly, take your time.
Rookie error 101, expecting to get business from your first networking event. I would highly recommend that you choose a few networking channels and stick with them for at least 12 months. People who network regularly and are truly into building relationships are better for your business than the fly by nighters who come and go in the blink of an eye.
Don’t be afraid of networking. Some of my best friendships have developed from networking events and I know my biggest jobs have come from networking connections.
So what have you got to lose? The year is young. Pick a few networks and go and make this your best year yet.
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We spend so much time in our lives either rushing to be somewhere or sitting and planning what we will do next.
Take the time out to make considered choices, to plan and then to execute considered choices in life.
Do not allow fear or perfection to immobilize you.
As long as you are working towards your goal, you may not get there tomorrow, but you will get there.
Look them in the eye
While someone is trying to determine what sort of person you are, they will be looking in your eyes. Maintain about 80% of your eye contact with a person by looking them square in the eye. You want to be seen as confident and self-assured and eye contact will do that for you. People who look away or appear shifty are not able to look someone in the eye.
Smile and the world smiles with you
No matter how nervous you are, how uncomfortable you are, how much you are sweating over the types of questions they are going to ask you, as long as you are smiling it gives you a chance to think, to make you look welcoming and for people to feel comfortable around you.
Stand tall and look the world straight in the eye
Slouching can be mistaken as not caring and having a slovenly attitude. There is no need to stand with a ram rod military bearing but a person who stands tall has confidence in oneself as a person.
Looking at Your Posture
In another post, I mentioned how sitting and standing can make you look domineering or submissive. In this post, I’ll talk about posture specifically because it is so important in terms of your sales success.
Good posture sends a likeability signal. It also looks confident (even when we don’t really feel that way!). It seems that posture has become less important over the past few generations, with more people becoming obese and tending to slouch. However, in sales (as in several other careers), posture really sends a message about you. Few of us exhibit really good posture most of the time.
Often, poor posture develops gradually. Signs of poor posture include any or all of the following items. Often, one sign of poor posture contributes to another. Any of them can also contribute to body pain.
- Weaken core muscles (the ones that stabilise your abdomen, lower back, and hips)
- Rounded shoulders
- Tilted hips (causing a swayback; visible if your belt sits lower in the front than in the back)
- Forward head posture (demonstrated when someone sits in their car and their head is forward from the headrest)
Working on Your Posture
There are lots of reasons that we develop poor posture, but one of the biggest factors is our core muscles. Weak core muscles come from a lack of exercise and prolonged periods of poor body positioning. Improving those muscles can help you develop better posture.
Before you start any exercise regime, you should consult your doctor. To motivate yourself, think of the boost to your health and your career, if you can transition from someone who has poor posture to someone who has a confident stance and takes care of themselves.
Here are some ways to improve your posture that you can incorporate into your regular exercise regime after you speak with your doctor (and perhaps an exercise therapist).
- Core strengthening exercises focus on your abdominal muscles, lower back, and hips. These can include stretches, yoga, crunches, swimming, etc.
- Rounded shoulders need support from strengthened weak upper back muscles as well as work on chest muscles, shoulders, laterals, and hips. As the upper back gets stronger and other areas loosen up, your shoulders will naturally move back where they belong.
- Tilted hips can be corrected with abdominal exercises and exercises that focus on the hamstrings and gluteal muscles.
- Forward head positioning comes from stooping during prolonged sitting, like we tend to do while watching TV, driving, and working in front of a computer or machinery. Exercise that corrects the weak and tight areas around your neck will allow you to stand and sit so that your ears are in line with your shoulders.
Unexpected results of standing straight
Standing up straight has added bonuses that you may not have considered
- As mentioned, you will appear more confident and more intelligent
- You will instantly look slimmer
- Clothing will fit you better- I have had clients complain their suit coats sagged only to have the sagging disappear as soon as their posture improved.
So there is nothing to lose by learning to stand up straight.
For more tips on how you can improve your personal brand there is a full 12 month program designed for graduates and anyone wanting to make a progression up the corporate ladder of success.