Friday, September 05, 2008

Networking 101

I recently attended a Bucks County Women’s Business Forum meeting. The Women’s Business Forum is a non-profit organization providing support, mentoring and inspiration to women entrepreneurs. The guest speaker for the event, Kim Yorio, is the co-author of the book The Girl’s Guide to Kicking your Career into Gear. The seminar touched on Kim’s career, how she joined forces and created a business with her partner, Caitlin Friedman, and their books geared to career-oriented women.

Kim also shared some of her own networking experiences. Some great tips she provided are outlined below:

  • Listen - People are so excited to meet new people that they don’t take the time to truly listen. For explained, Kim gave an example of a networking event of nearly 200 people she attended. The most memorable “connector” was a man who simply said he took his 60 second introduction time while networking to listen.
  • Be Respectful - Make sure you are keeping the other person’s interests in mind as well as your own. Networking is about creating relationships that are mutually beneficial.
  • Give Advice - Business referrals and connections are all about karma. One good deed or referral from you today could result in a good deed in your favor tomorrow.

In addition to Kim’s helpful tips, I came across another post in mediabistro.com’s blog, PRNewser called, Five Tips on How to Network at Social Events. The tips and my own comments are below.

  • Be Prepared - this echoes Kim’s advice too. Make sure that you have a goal or purpose in mind for going to a networking event. Listen and follow up. Ask questions to show that you were actively listening to the person.
  • Work on your elevator pitch - A brief introduction summarizing your goals and skills is important in a networking situation. Write down and practice a few ahead of time to prepare yourself.
  • Mingle - Usually people get comfortable with a few people early in an event. Make sure that you reassess your goals for attending. Compliments are great openers! Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.
  • Stay connected - Contact those you met, follow up and make sure to offer your expertise. It is also helpful to write down key features of the person you met on their business card to help you remember who they are after the event.

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