Did you catch my interview with Cathy Jennings of No Pressure Networking? Cathy shared some wonderful tips to help you network in person and online. I always feel self-conscious when I go to networking events, but I hope to use Cathy’s tips for my next foray into the world of in-person networking. In the meantime, I’ve committed to more online networking, setting aside a few minutes daily to connect and reconnect with former colleagues. I hope you found Cathy as inspiring as I did.
If you missed the show, you can listen to the recording online on Blog Talk Radio (it’s free.)
How to Network: 5 Business Networking Tips
Business networking doesn’t have to feel like a foreign language. Based on my conversation with Cathy, here are my favorite five tips that emerged from the show.
- Adding people to your email list, without their permission, after you’ve met them at a networking event is a big no-no. I was shocked when Cathy said that folks do this. It’s smarmy and not good marketing, folks. Instead, reach out personally to each contact you’ve made. You can call, drop them a quick email, or send an old-fashioned card. Always ask for permission before adding anyone to your email list and include a prominent “opt out” message so people can leave your list at any time.
- Ask people what they do when they’re not working. It’s a great ice breaker. Everyone has a hobby, an interest, a sports team they’re passionate about. Ask! It’s a good conversation starter.
- Networking isn’t only about business. Yes, you go to networking events to connect with people who may be a valuable business connection. But you have to be a friend, a person first…people do business with other people. Don’t jump into your sales pitch the second you meet someone.
- Speaking of sales pitches, have a creative way to state what you do and how you help people. Don’t rely on canned elevator speeches, and don’t answer people with one word answers when they ask you what you do. “I’m a lawyer.” “I’m a writer.” Boring! Instead, how about, “I’m a writer for magazines, publishers and marketing agencies.” Something interesting, at least.
- Bring your business cards with you. I was almost rendered speechless (okay, almost – it’s impossible to render me entirely speechless unless you gag me first) by Cathy’s statement that many professionals don’t bring business cards to networking events. My goodness, people, then what in the world are you there for? The free watered down Chardonnay? Honestly, bring and share those cards. And they don’t have to be traditional business cards. I’m thinking about having bookmarks printed up with my contact information on them. For a writer, that makes sense. How about you? What would you bring? Bring something that has your contact information on it. How can people find you after the meeting?
Cathy offered more great tips. I hope you’ll take a moment to visit No Pressure Networking and listen to the half hour recorded show on Blog Talk Radio.