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The Master Networker

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Have you ever went to a “networking event” and didn’t know quite what you were supposed to do.  Many individuals feel uncomfortable in networking settings just because they have not been formally trained in networking.  Well after you read this edition of  "The Connector" , you be ready for any networking encounter.     

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How to be a success at networking events
By Michael Rice 
One of the barriers to being a successful urban networker is the lack of knowledge of what to do in a networking situation.  This chapter will give you the necessary steps for creating a successful networking encounter.  A lot of the suggestions here are commonsense.  For most of readers, this will serve as a reminder of what is appropriate and effective.    I have broken down the process into three steps:  Preparation, Execution and Follow-up (P.E.F.) The P.E.F. process will provide you with the basic tools required to establish a successful networking encounter.

O       PreparationO       ExecutionO       Follow-up

Tools needed: Ink pen, business cards, 3x5 cards, cell phone, jotter pad, business card holders.

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Preparation 
1.      Dress appropriately and comfortably for the event.  Every networking event does not require a suit and tie.  Check the dress code on the flyer or invitation.  However, the rule of thumb is if you are pursuing a job or position, dress as you would if you had the position.  Simply “look the part.”
2.     Make sure you have business cards with your name, organization, phone number, fax, email and website (if you have one).
3.    Have an ink pen, a cell phone and a jotter (small pocket size pad) in case your prospect is not prepared.
4.    Bring two business card holders.  One for your cards and one for the cards you collect.  Keep them in two separate pockets.
5.    Research your event.  Find out who will be attending.  Identify those individuals who you want to meet.  Google information about them so you can find common interests to use as a basis for establishing rapport.  Contact people who can provide you with information about your prospective contact. Keep this information on a 3x5 card or on your jotter pad to review just before you make contact with this individual.   
6.    Seek out resources that may be of interest to your specific targets, i.e. news clipping or magazine articles regarding resources or innovations in their field.
7.     Make contact with the host prior to attendance so when you arrive, they will recognize you and help you connect with others.
8.    Have a networking goal.  You should have a Strategic Networking Action Plan (S.N.A.P.) that covers your long term goals and specific objectives for that evening.  For example, your overall goal is to increase your contacts in your field by 50 people with targeted date of December 2009.  Your evening’s objective is meet five new contacts.
9.    Prioritize a list of specific individuals with whom you wish to make contact.  You don’t want to get caught up talking with someone not on your list and have your primary target come and go.
10.           Ensure you have memorized or have notes to review on your prospect.
11.           Have a prepared introduction (two minute commercial) and questions that you practiced ready to go.
 12.           Take the time to visualize and mentally practice making contact with your prospect.  See yourself successfully establishing relationships and reaching your goals.   

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                                   Execution
 1.      As soon as you arrive greet your host.  By being seen interacting with the host your networking power is increased.  “Association leads to Elevation” in the networking arena.  Use the host to identify individuals who can assist you in achieving your networking goals. 
 2.      Do a sweep of the room to see who is in attendance.  Identify the individuals with whom you wish to connect.  
3.      Approach, make contact, establish rapport, ask your prepared questions and deliver your message.  Exchange contact information and make your exit.  
4.      Make sure you gather some unique information about your contact and write that information on the back their cards or in the jotter for your follow up. 

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Follow up
Within 48 hours of your networking event, you should do the following: 
  a.      Enter all the information regarding your new contacts from the networking event into your database.  
b.      Call all individuals you spoke with utilizing the information on the back of the cards.    
c.       Arrange to extend the contact by making coffee or lunch dates. 
 d. Send off thank you cards to the host and all other relevant people. 

Tips 
Smile, keep eye contact and think positive.  Think to yourself that you are a magnet for positive people and situations and run with it.

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Don’t’ try to sell.  This is a turn off.  You are there to establish relationships.   A good relationship can net you millions.  A poor approach can get you labeled and people will warn others about you.   

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Eat something before you go to a networking event.  Remember your goal is not to “get your grub on” but rather to meet new people.  No one wants to shake hands with someone with greasy hands.  It is difficult to exchange information with people if you have drink in one hand and a plate in the other.   Don’t drink excessively.  Alcoholic breath is not impressive.  You also may say something inappropriate once you have had a couple drinks.   Along the same lines, try not to smoke prior to going to a networking event.  Smoker’s breath is not appealing and cigarette smoke is often on your hands and in your clothes.  However, if your potential contact is a smoker, a good tactic is to isolate them by suggesting you get a smoke together.  Today smoking areas are isolated or you may have to step outside.  Either way you may find you have your potential contact to yourself.

Networking is a an Art is be admired
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Networking is a Skill to be acquired

Conclusion
Review this chapter several times prior to your next networking encounter.  You may be surprised how much more rewarding your networking encounter will be if you follow my networking protocol. Networking can be rewarding and uplifting activity especially when you know what to do.  Enjoy it.
 For more information go to  www.theconnectornetwork.com 

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