Networking for fun and profit

Monika Tutterová

Management Coach, Alumni Class of 2003

It’s not about what you know, but who you know – and these days, it’s also about how quickly you can contact them.

Julie Svarovská

Student in the Master's in Professional and Business Communication program

The basics for any networking event:

  • Have plenty of business cards
  • Be able to make your presentation in 30 seconds
  • Be open to new possibilities, because you never know who you could meet 

The main strategy for networking is to memorize and have a clear understanding of your business and your needs. That way, you can then take any opportunity that arises to recommend or mention your specialist area. 

The top three reasons for networking are:

  • Firstly, my personal favorite: “You never know who you could meet”; who knows what or who you might need in the future?
  • Secondly, there’s a saying that people meet at least twice over their lifetimes – right now you don’t know where you will meet someone again, and what positions either of you will be in.
  • Finally, it is OK not to know everything, and OK to ask for help. 

So let’s jump right in! 

How many contacts do you have in your network? 

Did you know that on average, every person in your network knows another 250 people? 

We each have our own network, everyone we meet during the day, from the sales rep in the coffee shop in the morning to the receptionist at work. We are networking all the time. 

Let’s focus on the networking event itself. For an unforgettable experience, follow these tips for before, during and after: 

1. Preparation

As you set out what you will wear, devote some time to “mental” preparation. Establish your aims for the event – if you want a successful outcome, you should have some idea of what you are trying to achieve. What would you consider to be a success?

Try looking at the following examples to help you to get your goals:

“I want to leave with (pick a number) business cards from interesting people.”

“I want people to remember me.”

“I want to meet with (pick a number) businessmen who are starting their own businesses right now.” 

Your goals should be both clear and realistic.

Once you have set your goals, it’s time to get dressed, pick up your business cards, and go! 

2. At the networking event 

As you stand outside, how do you feel? How are your energy levels? The more energetic you feel, the more you will energize the people you meet. So put yourself in a good mood and walk through that door! 

Your manner of entry, the way you walk in and what you wear all create a first impression. Before you have a chance to speak to anybody, they will see, hear and feel you – and they’re checking you out. When you finally have a chance to speak to them, make sure you look into their eyes, and speak loudly and clearly. 

But what can you talk to a stranger about? Remember that other people are exactly the same as you – they don’t know what to say either. The most common word in any conversation is “I”, so the real key is to let them talk about themselves for 80% of the time. Listen while they talk! 

3. After the event 

What is your usual follow-up? Once you get a contact you should develop it, and meet with them again to talk about your mutual interests in a little more detail. 

If you want to be a good networker, contact everyone you’ve met within the next 48 hours, otherwise they will not remember you. 

To avoid the situation where you find a business card several weeks later and are not sure who the person is, try to write a note to yourself on the card immediately after the event – where you met and when, and possibly also a description of the person’s appearance. This will help you remember your new contact until the next time you meet. 

Remember – you never know who you could meet. Happy networking!

 

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