I think that one of the things I don’t like about networking is that most of us feel the need to act perfect while doing it. Since the supposed goal of networking is to help get yourself business or, at the very least, leave a good impression, being clumsy, acting with a lack of self confidence or, worst of all, acting clueless, is a big no-no.
Lets see some rules for networking that make me want to hide at home. These rules have been paraphrased for anonymity and brevity:
Say something memorable so you’ll be remembered later.
Although I might remember someone who had something interesting to say, the people I’ll remember actively will be 1) nice and 2) have something to say that connects to me in some way. If you try to impress me, I’m outy (and annoyed).
People qualify either as: Potential clients, source of referrals or interesting-but-nothing-more. Realize that not everyone will be a prospect. People can also be useful in other ways.
I really hate the using aspect of networking. I guess it’s the same reason I dread singles events. Instead, be nice, be friendly. Let us learn new things from each other. Don’t treat me like an object through which you can acquire something and I won’t treat you that way.
Always act like you’re on a first date. (From here)
Sounds too difficult if you ask me. And misses the point. Again, you want to be a trust-worthy, kind and professional person. So be that person and then be yourself. OK, a little more difficult than dressing up and waxing the car, but much more to the point.
OK, so what tips would I give for networking? Here ya go:
- Be a nice person (not a bad idea for any area of your life). In general, people want to work and associate with nice people.
- Act and speak honestly. Don’t be fake and don’t suck up. Try to give an honest picture of who you are and not to put on too much of a show.
- Be polite.
- Talk to people, and look them in the eye, even if you don’t think you’re going to get anything out of them.
- Don’t forget your business (or personal) cards. They are so useful.
- Know how to explain what your company does and what you do in not too many words.
- Don’t talk about yourself too much.
Those are my rules for networking. They basically comprise being a mensch and carrying business cards. I made it easy so you can remember them easily.
Good luck. :)