Are you utilizing a strong personal brand to build your networking skills or are you turning people off without even knowing it? Last week I attended my monthly eWomenNetwork Accelerated Networking Meeting in Orange County, CA. As usual I was well equipped with business cards, a pen and my trusty, old-fashioned notepad. With each interaction I considered if there was an appropriate next step of follow up. Really LOOKING for any opportunity to serve each individual I interacted with. Did I need to make an email introduction or referral? Was there an article I could share that would help solve a problem or simply educate? Was a simple thank-you or nice to meet you note in order?
Your personal brand encompasses everything from the clothes you wear to how you show up online to your customer’s experience with you. Business professionals who fully utilize the power of their personal brand stand out, get noticed and attract clients. In addition to your business expertise, it ALL comes down to making people feel valued and treating them with common courtesy.
DOS AND DON’TS OF SUCCESSFUL NETWORKING
DO– Focus on one individual at a time. It’s not about how many people you connect with, but the quality of those you do connect with. Make strong eye contact. Stand directly in front of the individual you’re talking to. It creates a more direct interaction.
DO-Be prepared with a well thought-out statement that quickly describes what you do. Think of this statement as a ‘flirtation’ that will have others asking to know more.
DO– Ask powerful questions. “Tell me about a WIN you’ve had in business recently?” “Do you have anything exciting that you’re working on that you’d like to share?” “Describe your perfect target market.”
DO… What you say you’re going to do. Be sure to make only the commitments you can keep. Follow up is the special sauce.
DO– Create relationships for the long haul. Slow and steady wins the race.
DO– Follow up with a written card. This requires quick action. My follow up notes go out the day of or after an event. A special touch in a timely manner makes you shine. Do they work? A recent survey of USC employers indicated that 76% prefer a handwritten thank-you note to an email.
DO– Be patient and consistent. It takes time and consistency to build lasting and strong relationships.
DON’T– Underestimate the power of a polished wardrobe and image. Make those impressions count by close attention to the details like manicured nails and polished shoes.
DON’T– Give someone your business card unless they specifically ask for it.
DON’T– Add someone to your email list unless they have made the request. Our email boxes are precious space and frankly when someone adds me without my consent it comes across as presumptive even if it’s not meant to be. I will typically unsubscribe.
DON’T– Talk about yourself too much. It’s not important to share all of your credentials and detailed services unless that information is specifically requested.
How you network is a reflection of how you do business. Showing up courteously with intention, connection and follow through will ultimately attract the right people.
Do YOU have any Networking Dos or Don’ts to add? Please do so below!