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Do's and Don'ts of Business Networking

Quick Notes - Business Networking:
  • Do's: Be prepared, Set goals, Listen, Take notes, Follow up, Give referrals.
  • Don't: Make deals or Waste time.

Networking is the art of meeting new people and developing relationships that can potentially serve you well in future business transactions. Networking can aide in cultivating new prospects and sales. It doesn’t take advanced selling techniques or advanced knowledge to properly network with other professionals, but it can take a considerable amount of time and effort to properly network. The following are common Do’s and Don’ts of networking, and are steadfast suggestions on ensuring your networking efforts are successful.

Do's and Don'ts - Cultivate New Prospects & Sales

Do: Be Prepared.

Many professionals let networking opportunities pass because they do not value the long term value of maintaining and expanding your rolodex. This is a grave mistake. You never know when a past contact may be your saving grace. Be prepared for networking sessions by always carrying business cards. Put some into your wallet, some into your pockets, and inside your jacket or vehicle. Keep business cards close to you. You never know when a networking opportunity will arise.

Do: Set Goals.

Make your networking opportunities realistic. If you’re attending a function or conference and you know the attendance, aim to meet and exchange cards with a certain amount of individuals. Start with a low number – say 10 – and see how effective you are at handling that many people. Increase your number appropriately, depending how proactive and outgoing you are. Goals will assist you in adequately networking with others.

Do NOT: Make Deals.

Networking opportunities are not invitations to conduct business or try and close a deal. Even if you have clients at the function, refrain from conducting business with them. The other professionals in the room are there to meet new people and not be sold. This is the easiest way to burn bridges with people you want to impress. Stay casual, be friendly, and simply exchange surface level information with your peers.

Do: Listen.

Listening is integral to networking sessions. Your ability to remember names, companies, job titles, and appearances are critical to your success as a networker. Be attentive with everyone you meet and they will show you the same respect as you introduce yourself. Listen to people and engage them with insightful questions about their career or company. This is the quickest way to establish positive rapport with new contacts. Engage new contacts on their terms, and be comfortable stepping outside of your comfort zone in order to appease them.

Do: Take Notes.

Use the business cards you receive as notepads. Write notes about that specific person so you can remember them in the future. Take note of additional contact information, secretary name and contact, city of residence, and any other shred of information that may prove beneficial in building future rapport with that person. If you do not take notes, you are more than likely going to forget important tid bits of information.

Do NOT: Waste Time.

The worst thing you can do at networking opportunities is waste time. You do not want to spend more than 10 minutes with any one individual. You also do not want to waste time by meeting with friends or associates that you could otherwise mingle with away from your networking opportunity. The point of being at these kinds of functions is to meet new people. Encourage your colleagues to do the same.

Do: Follow Up.

Spend some time following up with the people you meet at networking functions. Call or e-mail them 2 weeks after your initial meeting and rekindle rapport. Try to find a point of common interest and invite them for lunch. You will learn a lot more about them and their business by spending some one on one time with them. Be prepared to give them more information about your business and make an initial sales pitch. Also be prepared to listen to their potential sales pitch. This is an excellent opportunity to generate sales leads with someone in a different industry or sector.

Do: Give Referrals.

It goes without saying that what goes around will eventually come around. Use this philosophy as you plant the seeds with new contacts. Seize the opportunity to refer business their way if it is in their best interest. You can be sure that when you have a problem to solve, they will also be there to refer business your way. Networking is an opportunity to be selfless and generous.
Networking is an excellent opportunity to meet new people and learn more about similar businesses in your sector. It also allows you to explore other businesses and jobs in related industries. Use these opportunities productively, and ensure you follow these simple Do’s and Don’ts to ensure success.