Networking Hints.

Networking is more than collecting a bunch of business cards at a networking event! The truth is, real networking is actually more of a long-term project, than an event where you meet dozens of people in an hour!

Following these tips can help you make the most of your lunch networking session (as well as any other networking event that you attend)!

1) Listen!
You cannot help anyone unless you know what their needs are, and it goes without saying you can only know what someone's needs are if you listen!

2) Ask not what your networking partner can do for you...
In a business networking situation, you get what you give! If you aren't receiving any referrals by participating in networking events or groups, ask yourself, have you given any referrals?

3) Build a relationship!
Think long term. You're in your business for the long term, your relationships that you build should be the same. Putting in the time and effort is the only way to get (and give) real value in a business relationship.

4) Be specific.
Saying "I'm an accountant and I'm looking for new clients.", doesn't really tell your networking partners very much. However, saying, "I'm an accountant looking to assist non-profits set up their accounting systems," may trigger more of a response. Additionally, mentioning a specialty instead of talking about what you do in general helps your networking partner understand what you are looking for in a client.

5) Give the first referral.
It will be remembered!

6) Remember - the networking partner you are speaking to at any given moment knows, on average, 250 other people...
It's not just about the person you are speaking with. It's also about the people that person knows, and of course, it goes without saying, you NEVER know who that person knows. So don't necessarily write off someone because of where they work or what position they hold. Your next big client may come from the unlikeliest of referrals.

7) Say thank you!
This goes without saying, but a little reminder never hurts!

8) Follow through quickly!
If you are given a referral, it is important to follow through quickly. Not only is it a reflection on you and your company, but also upon the person who referred you!

9) Keep in touch!
Its important to keep the momentum of your networking lunch! Touch base often (but not to the point of being an annoyance!) and build upon that foundation that you started. Its amazing what an email or personal invitation to a business function you feel could benefit your business partner, can do!

Networking is certainly hard work, but you can make it rewarding and meet a few good people along the way, if you have the right mind-set and a positive attitude!