I had the privilege of attending the kick-off luncheon for a local chapter of the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE). Associations like NAFE are great avenues for networking with other business professionals.
Here are a few networking tips:
- To help you remember names of those you meet for the first time, repeat their name at least three times during the conversation.
- Ask open-ended questions. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
- After speaking with a potential customer or business partner, write down a few key points about your conversation on the back of their business card. This will help you when following up at a later date. (NOTE: Always follow up!)
- Smile. Be positive when answering ice breaker questions. No one likes to hear how bad your day is.
- Offer a firm handshake during introductions.
There are many other tips for networking. The point is to get connected. Networking relationships are a great resource for leads, referrals, collaboration opportunities, mentors, and vendor recommendations. Remember, people like to do business with people that do business with them.
The most important marketing campaign you will ever tackle is marketing yourself. Getting involved and participating in association groups is the media. The advertisement is you – your expertise, your talents.