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Helpful Networking Tips for Everyone

Southeast Regional Relocation Conferences and EventsBack in September I attended the Southeastern Regional Relocation Council fall conference, one of my big relocation industry conferences and events. The whole event was a great learning experience, but one session in particular stuck with me. Heather Post from Etiquette Seed presented a session titled “Business Etiquette.” Her humorous style and high quality information regarding the importance of networking made for an incredible session. With holiday parties approaching and new goals being set, I thought it’d be great to take what I learned from her, and spread some helpful networking tips for everyone, in any industry.

So, what is networking?

The dictionary will tell you that it’s “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically; the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.” Sounds pretty, and makes sense, but my definition is a bit simpler:

Networking = Relationships = Contracts and $$$

Blunt? Sure. But it’s all in how you network and what you hope to get and give out of it. Professionally, networking can be used to find a new career path or grow in an existing one, to find new prospective clients or find a great supplier, to be recognized as an expert in your field or mentor up and coming experts. There are so many paths we can take at any given time in our lives.

But, networking is only as good as your approach. We all know as many good networkers as bad ones. So, what works and what doesn’t? Here are some helpful networking tips.

Networking Do’s:

1. Think about the event before you show up: Ask yourself why you are attending the event and what you want to accomplish prior to arrival. It’s important to have a purpose in mind before you make it to the event so that you can keep your goals in mind and focus on meaningful conversations.

2. Get to the event early and stay late: This may seem silly, but it serves a higher purpose. Subconsciously, people will view you as important since you were already there and ready by the time they showed up. Staying a bit late has the same effect

3. Talk to people: This one should seem pretty obvious. You can’t network without talking, right? Do not be afraid to initiate conversations and ask questions. Be friendly and open, as this will prompt others to be the same with you. On the same note, don’t be afraid to ask people that you do know to introduce you to some of their connections. And, be sure to offer the same for them

4. Bring business cards: The last thing you want is to make a great connection and say your goodbyes without exchanging a card. Your business card does more than provide your contact information. It serves as a reminder of your conversation. Don’t let yourself be forgotten!

5. Reach out even if they don’t need anything: Networking is about creating, nurturing, and building relationships. You wouldn’t ignore your friends until you needed something would you? You don’t build trust by only asking for favors. Ask how your connections are doing, wish them well and stay in touch.

 

Networking Don’ts:

1. Be timid: Some people are shy by nature. But, you need to fight it at a networking event. You can’t network via eye contact and you definitely can’t network if you are staring at the floor the whole time. Stand up tall, smile, and chat it up.

2. Buddy up: If you meet someone in the beginning of the conference and you form a great connection, that’s great! But don’t spend your entire event talking to only that one person. You came to build your network and you’ll build it much faster if you spend time talking and getting to know multiple professionals.

3. Over promote yourself: It’s one thing to talk about yourself and your business; that is how people get to know you and what you do. It’s totally different if you are a walking billboard. People will grow tired of hearing you talk about yourself, which brings me to my next point …

4. Be afraid to ask questions: The only way you’ll gain the information you are looking for is if you ask. If you are unclear about something somebody is saying, ask clarifying questions.

5. Be a “hit and run:” Keep-up with your new connections so that they don’t become old lost connections.

Now that you know some of the do’s and don’ts (and feel free to add more points in the comments below), it’s time to move on to networking etiquette. It’s important to make and leave a good impression

Networking Etiquette: 

1. Visual Impact: Your “resting face” should appear warm and happy. Nobody wants to talk to someone who looks miserable.

2. Posture: You want to appear professional but not intimidating. Stand up straight but stay comfortable.

3. Hand Shake: Shake hands with confidence. Not too firm where you come off as aggressive, but not so weak that you seem frail and intimidated.

4. Eye Contact: Please don’t stare. It’s creepy when people stare directly into your eyes and don’t blink. Use the triangle rule – shoulders and head.

5. Name Use: When somebody introduces himself or herself to you, repeat their name in your greeting.

  • Ex: “Hi, I’m Laura.”

              “Hi Laura, nice to meet you, I’m ____”

I could go on and on about do’s, don’ts, and proper etiquette, but I’m interested in your input as well. Share your networking tips in the comments below!

 

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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