Today is Tuesday, so this post is on personal impact.
Personal impact is very important when you find yourself in a networking situation. Lots of people feel uncomfortable networking. Here are some common sense suggestions on networking (edited by me, of course) that I found on a site in the UK www.speakfirst.co.uk.
How to Network Effectively
Be clear about what you want to achieve in any networking situation. Think about how you will introduce yourself. You want to create a positive first impression. Take some business cards. This makes it easier for others to contact you. Decide you want to make the most of the event. This will help you feel upbeat and enthusiastic.
Set a goal for the number of people you want to meet. Consider how many people you would like to talk to and how many cards you would like to take away. Make sure this is stretching yet achievable and don’t leave until you’ve met your goal. This can give you the impetus to move on in the conversation.
Act like a host, not a guest. If you adopt the mindset of a host you are more likely to be proactive in greeting people, introducing yourself and asking people if they would like to meet others. You can create as strong an impression by being a conduit for people.
Avoid approaching two people who seem to be talking intensely. Instead approach groups of three or more. Stand close by and acknowledge what’s being said through your body language and facial expressions. Seize the right moment to make eye contact and say ‘hello’ or add something to the conversation.
Make your introduction interesting. An effective introduction is brief and memorable; it needs to have sufficient impact to get the interest of the group. Rather than describe yourself features, describe the benefits you bring to others. I always say, “I’m Bud Bilanich, the Common Sense Guy. I help individuals, teams and entire organizations succeed through applying their common sense.” Your goal is to give others a hook to ask questions or to remember you by.
Get to know the other person through self disclosure. When you disclose something about yourself or your interests, you are opening the door for others to get to know you better. Share something positive. Don’t whine about the world or talk about your pet hate. If you do, you will convey the wrong impression. Don’t assume others know about you and your business. Once you open up, others will follow suit.
Listen and aim to give value. Listening is crucial when networking. It’s very evident to another person when you are not paying attention to him or her. One important goal in networking is to learn as much as you can about the people you meet and to uncover ways you can be a useful resource to them. Show a genuine interest in these people. Look for common ground as they open up. People want to spend time with people they like and trust.
Change your focus from ‘what’s in it for me?’ to ‘what can I offer you?’ People quickly work out if someone is aiming to sell to them or is only interested in taking what they can get. Networking is about developing relationships with others, so meeting people at events is about starting the process, not ending it. If you give value by helping them in some way – by giving them a referral or offering some information – they’re more likely to spend time with you and respond to your follow-ups.
You may feel uncomfortable or rude breaking away from a conversation, even though networking events are designed for people to circulate. If you’re enjoying the company, suggest that you both join another group. If you want to get away completely, or the conversation has run its course, say something like ‘it’s been great to meet you, I hope you enjoy the rest of the event’ or ‘let’s keep in touch’. Don’t over-complicate your exit, just make your voice tone sound final, and then move away.
Follow up afterwards. Ask each person you meet for two cards – one to pass on and one to keep. It’s a powerful way of demonstrating you’d like to refer them to someone, or vice versa. Make a note on their business card of what you’ve promised to do for them, so you don’t forget. Or note down a memorable feature of their image, or the conversation, to remind you of who they are. If you’re meeting lots of people, it’s easy to lose track. As soon as possible afterwards, drop them a line or give them a call and do what you said you would do. They’ll be delighted that you remembered them. Agree how you’ll keep in touch going forward.
These are some great common sense events on how to make a positive personal impact at any networking event. Now, it’s up to you – go out and put them to use.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Log on to my website www.BudBilanich.com to subscribe to my monthly ezine and for more common sense. Check out my other blog: www.CommonSenseGuy.com for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.
I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open. Please go to www.FirstGiving.com/TheCommonSenseGuy to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.