How to network like a pro

Uncategorized Posted Apr 4, 2011 by metropolis

Last week I attended a Boston Business Journal breakfast event on networking featuring Diane Darling, owner of Effective Networking. Diane is a nationally recognized speaker, author, entrepreneur and networker who brought humor to the table, as well as practical advice for how to best leverage yourself and your company in a social setting.

Diane shared tips and tricks for making a memorable impression when meeting someone for the first time—everything from handshakes to which pocket to keep your business cards in. Maybe you know most, or do them as second nature without thinking, but they serve as good reminders of how to make the most out of business networking.

–         Before Diane attends an event she checks out the speaker’s LinkedIn profile, that way she knows what connections they have in common and who could potentially introduce them.

–         Diane always, always has at least one question prepared before she attends an event. She usually gets context for her question by Googleing the speaker. Having a question allows you to interact with the speaker and later on, if you meet face-to-face, you can refer to yourself as the person that asked that question which automatically creates a connection.

–         Diane likes to get to events early and scope out the scene. She also approaches the people she determines as “V.I.P.” before an event starts. Afterwards, V.I.P.’s tend to get swamped by event attendees trying to speak with them.

–         Because Diane has been networking for many years, she could never possibly remember every person that she’s ever interacted with. Instead of saying “nice to meet you” when she is speaking with someone, she instead says “nice to see you,” this way she avoids the awkwardness of re-meeting someone whom she has already been introduced to.

–         An initial handshake is imperative to a positive interaction between two or more people. A handshake tells in a few seconds whether or not someone wants to continue conversation. A firm hand shake that lasts for approximately three seconds and involves steady eye contact is a good indicator of a confident, interested connection.

–         Diane teaches and practices what she has coined as the “dyslexic introduction”—state something about yourself before you say your name, that way you give the person you’re speaking with context. For example, “Hi, I’m in public relations and my name is Maggie.” It doesn’t necessarily have to be a fact that pertains to your job; instead you could say why you’re at an event or state something you’re interested in. The idea is to make you stand out and have a reference point that goes along with who you are.

–         The most important part about networking is being self-aware, according to Diane. Many people feel networking is wrought with insincerities and people just trying to promote themselves. Instead, Diane says networking is about building relationships before you need them. When you meet someone for the first time, think “Who in my network would they like to meet?” and “How can I help them/what problem can I solve for them?” If you approach networking with the mentality of being a resource, others will do the same for you and you will become a successful networker.

According to studies, individuals have fifteen seconds at most to make an impression during an initial interaction. Hopefully you can apply Diane’s tips to your networking skills and make those few seconds count!