By Rebecca Barnes, Publisher, Prince William Living
In our last blog, we talked about how to make the most of your networking time. We focused on some important dos and don’ts. Now, we’re going to give you some easy steps to ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities to nurture the relationships you begin through networking.
If networking doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t worry. It doesn’t come naturally to many people. These five simple practices can make networking easier and more productive.
It’s in the cards. People use business cards for a reason – first and foremost, because most of us can’t remember everyone’s name. Business cards are a great way to learn someone’s name and to use it. Calling someone by their name makes them feel important. So before you even think about handing out your card, ask for someone else’s. Look at it. Call the person by their name. Then put the card in a pocket, preferably close to your heart. Why there? Because the action shows you think the person is important. It’s the kind of body language that says, “You mean something to me,” as opposed to jamming the card into your wallet with your grocery store receipts.
Note it. Once you get a few moments to yourself, even if it’s right after the meeting, make some notes on the business cards so you remember even more about the people you met. Maybe Jane is a commercial realtor who told you about her daughter’s birthday party coming up over the weekend. Great. Note it on the card. You can use that information to remind Jane of your conversation when you follow up with an email. It’s not being fake. It’s relationship building. “Jane, it was nice to speak with you today! I know you’re busy planning your daughter’s party, but I would love to chat more about your business Tuesday around noon. Let me know if that’s a good time for you. I look forward to hearing back!”
Pin it right. Have you ever tried to learn someone’s name or remind yourself of their name by looking at their nametag, only to discover you couldn’t read it? It’s a common problem, an easily avoidable one. First, be sure your name is big enough to be read. It’s okay to have your name printed in font bigger than business card size. If you aren’t sure what’s appropriate when you order your nametag, ask a designer to give you some insights. When you do get your pin, be sure to wear it on your right lapel. Then when you reach across to shake hands, there’s a clear line of sight to your name. See how easy that is? Don’t you wish everyone did that?
Make it social. We all know social media is powerful, so harness that power during the meeting. Post about the meeting on your social channels. Tag your location, your best contacts and their businesses. They will appreciate the visibility, which serves to build your relationship further. Use hashtags appropriate for the organizations and the event. Remember, networking is about giving, so when you do these extras, you’re networking right.
Ask it. That’s right. Ask the question: “Can I put you on my mailing list?” It’s not rude to ask this once you’ve had a conversation and have established a rapport. It IS rude to assume it’s okay to add someone to your email list without asking. Be sure you tell the person how often they can expect an email or newsletter from you so they know what they are getting themselves into. Most people will say “yes” and in turn ask to put you on their list. Rule of thumb – if they say it’s okay, don’t refuse their request when they ask you. Fair is fair.
So there you have it – the top networking behaviors you should adopt as your own. Now that you know how to network right, get out there and do it. There’s a whole world waiting for you to meet them.