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Guidelines for Effective Networking

Go to the function with a goal in mind.
Decide what your networking goals will be for the event. What information or resources are you seeking to help you? Is this a likely event for getting that support?

Present yourself attractively. Go confidently. Go prepared. Dress to win. Wear your best colors and an outfit that helps you to feel your best.

Take your networking tools. Take a good supply of business cards, a good pen and a pocket calendar.

Decide how many strong contacts you want to make for the evening. Go for quality of contacts rather than for large numbers. Keep in mind your primary purpose for networking at this event. One or two quality contacts may be a reasonable goal.

Enter the room, center yourself and observe. Before getting into conversations with people, take a few seconds to center yourself. Observe the climate of the room. Quickly scan the room, determine where power groups more likely to form. Mentally decide on the one or two people that you want to meet.

Initiate a conversation. Smile, establish eye contact, extend a handshake, and introduce yourself. The person standing alone will appreciate your rescuing them from a lonely predicament. Initiate a conversation.

Ask good questions and listen. Ask no more than one or two key questions at the beginning. Listen carefully to their reply; be willing to hear what they say.

Circulate. Use your discretion as to the amount of time you spend with your contacts at the event. Remember that your goal is to get quality contacts. Be sure to exchange cards as you circulate. Use the back of business cards to make interesting points such as how you met and what was discussed.

Don't get stuck. Don't get drawn into lengthy business discussions at a networking event. Arrange a follow-up meeting if you want a long discussion.

Follow-up. Be patient when you network. And don't forget to water the seeds you've planted. Follow-up!

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