Article Summary:What's the difference between mingling and business networking?
Twenty - five years ago the word 'network' applied to CBS, NBC and ABC. My, how the world has changed! In 1993, The Secrets of Savvy Networking was published by Warner Books and much of what is written still applies to our success about a process that is critical to our business and personal success. But it is not working a room. Most of the articles I read use the term networking but they are talking about how one mingles at events. It's time to give each skill its just due.
1. Know the difference between 'working a room' and networking.
They are different activities and draw on different strengths. Unfortunately, too many people lump them together and confuse one for the other.
Working a room is the mingling required at any event where we meet, converse and connect with others. An exchange of business cards FOLLOWS a conversation - does not precede nor supplant it.
Networking is a mutually - beneficial process that occurs over time, whereby we exchange leads, ideas, information or support and is based on reciprocity. Some great networkers are lousy at mingling and vice a versa.
2. Be prepared before you attend any business or social event where mingling is on the menu.
Have an idea of who will be there by name, position, profession, interest or expertise. In order to feel more comfortable and prepared, spend time to assess what you have in common with the other attendees. That will help you figure out topics of conversation that are of mutual interest rather than focusing on those that only further your goals.
3. Know your purpose but be guided, not blinded, by it.
Let's not act as if our agenda is etched in our foreheads. Meeting, greeting and making small talk is the task at hand. You may think that 'small talk' is not important or it's beneath you but it's what leads to big talk and is the way we establish common ground and interests while connecting us with other attendees, potential clients and business matchmakers.
4. Forget the Twenty Questions.
Conversation is three pronged: observing, asking questions and revealing. If you ask too many questions, you're being invasive, not curious. Read the industry 'zine, newsletter as well as a local and national paper. Prepare 3-5 topics of interest just in case you are stuck.
5. Listening is key.
BUT, if you only listen and add nothing to the mix, you lose the opportunity of establishing a connection that has depth. People do want to get to know you as well answer all your questions before they do business with you.
6. Have a 7-9 self- introduction that provides a BENEFIT of what you do rather than a job title or a long-winded 30 - 60 -second mission statement.
That can come later once you are invited to expound. Remember, this the time for pleasantries& the root word being 'pleasant'. But do have a clear, brief and interesting answer when asked about yourself and what you do.
7. Maintain eye contact with those in conversation with you.
Forget scanning the room as that is memorable but for the wrong reason and it's irritating for the person being ignored.
8. Offer a solution if someone mentions an issue at hand and you have an idea that might be helpful.
Networking is give and take and it's an opportunity to help while showcasing your value and ideas.
9. Bring only biz cards to any event.
None has the room or the desire to be bogged down with brochures, magazine articles or your latest booklet. The exchange of business cards allows for the follow-up we know as networking.
10. Follow-up in a timely fashion.
Do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. If the follow-up is taking longer because you are waiting for information from a third party, sent a quick email and ALWAYS keep your new acquaintance in the loop.
Susan RoAne is an in-demand keynote speaker and best-selling author who has worked conventions, trade shows, meetings and the bleachers of Wrigley Field. Her best-selling books: "How To Work A RoomŪ", "The Secrets of Savvy Networking and What Do I Say Next?" and her audio-book, "RoAne's Rules: How To Make the RIGHT Impression", are available in local and on-line bookstores. Susan RoAne is the nation's leading and original networking authority and can be located in San Francisco at 415-239-2224 and at: www.susanroane.com.