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4 networking tips they don’t teach in business school
Louisville Courier Journal

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NCET helps you explore business and technology

People agree that one of the best ways to find and create the perfect business connections is to build relationships with the right individuals. But what if you don’t even know who they are? One of the better ways to find and cultivate those connections is through networking.

You may be thinking that you hate the schmoozing or you are not effective at networking events or you don’t know what to say. Here are three concepts that might help.

Have lower expectations. We have all met someone at an event who has 30 business cards in hand with the intention of giving every single one of them away! If the networking portion of the occasion is 30 minutes, that is one minute per person to make a positive first impression! Therefore, that minute probably will be all about me!

What if your objective was to hand out just five business cards — to five key people? Or to give your “elevator speech” to three potential clients? Or to meet that one person who can best help you with your primary aim? In these examples, you have the time to have an actual dialogue, and learn about them! It’s about forging relationships. The sale can come later.

Have a plan. Many people just go to the event and hope something good happens. Instead, try determining who you want to meet and how to make that happen. If you want to meet the speaker at a training session, show up early (speakers always do!) Ask the meeting planner or someone from the sponsoring organization if they will introduce you to this expert. Most people are more than happy to introduce you to others, but you have to ask. The result of this effort may be no more than an introduction: however, it could be a strong beginning to a powerful relationship.

Have fun! Most people do not take advantage of networking opportunities because they don’t think they’ll be fun. So, make them fun!

If you happen to meet the same people at a friend’s barbecue this weekend that you met this morning at that business breakfast, would the conversations be the same? Maybe they should be! Talk to them as if you wanted to get to know them better. Learn about their family, their interest, and what they do for a living. Be open. People will be charmed when you say, “I’m new and just want to meet some people.” Your honesty might spur other introductions. And, that might be fun!!

Try it! You might meet your greater expectations!

Learn more about networking and “shameless self-promotion” at NCET’s Biz Cafe on Feb. 20 at Rounds Bakery. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. More info at NCETcafe.org.

Chuck Sweeney is a business coach and motivational speaker (www.chucksweeney.com/) and NCET’s VP of special projects (www.NCET.org).

 

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