Here are our five favorite pieces of networking gold from Master Networker Fleur Allen:
1. Face-to-Face Communication is a Lost Art
With technology mediating the majority of our daily interactions, it’s becoming easier and easier to overlook face to face communication. Why go get a cup of coffee with a business associate when you could send an email? Why introduce yourself to a potential customer when you could look them up on LinkedIn? There are a million different excuses, but when it comes to networking, old fashioned introductions are the most effective and memorable. That’s why Fleur and her team of master networkers take the time to personally introduce members of Out of the Box Biz to each other. This way, real relationships have the ability to form, rather than heavily mediated ones.
2. Get a Great Elevator Pitch
There’s nothing worse than getting asked what you or your company do and then having your mind go blank. You can avoid that awkward silence by having a prepared and polished elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short, concise and intriguing synopsis of who you are, what you do, what you’re interested in, and what your value is. Based on the name, the pitch should be short enough to complete in the span of an elevator ride – not drag on forever. So try to keep it to under a minute.
3. Don’t Just Go Around Throwing Your Business Cards at Everyone
There’s the right way to network, and there’s definitely the wrong way. The latter would be assuming that everyone YOU want to connect with also wants to connect. In a perfect world, everyone you reach out to would be receptive and willing to help but, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Instead, think about networking as a mutually beneficial RELATIONSHIP. One of the best ways to get the most out of your networking efforts is to focus on developing long-term professional relationships rather than honing in on the short game. It’s great to know what knowledge or insights you want to get out of relationships, but also keep in mind what you can offer THEM. That way there’s an incentive for your contacts to get back to you.
4. Take the Time to Prepare
We’ve all experienced those cringeworthy moments when people giving a presentation or introducing themselves just can’t seem to get what they’re saying to match what’s going on in their head. So, whether you’re preparing a live presentation or your elevator pitch, it’s important to take the time to prepare for it. This will give you a chance to work out any parts that might trip you up when you’re delivering it in-person. As Fleur says, “If you are prepared in ideal conditions, then generally you can handle something going wrong without it completely freaking you out.” Try going over what you want to say at least three times before you are in the spotlight.
5. “Match What You Say With Your Actions”
You’re going to want to make yourself look good when meeting new people, but make sure you’re staying authentic. According to Fleur “If you’re introducing yourself as a helpful person – you actually have to be helpful.” Lead with the information and facts about yourself that paint you in a good light, but if asked about something you’re unsure about or don’t have experience in – don’t lie.