Real Networking for Professionals in Transition

I am at conferences a lot. I speak on networking (amongst other things).

But when I am at the conference I am not particularly inclined to… network.  Sound weird?

Maybe its because I’m more of an online networker…. ?  Maybe I’m an introvert? Who knows why… but networking doesn’t necessarily come easy to me.

It doesn’t come easy to most people… that’s why there are some pretty popular books on the subject.

Here’s a post that Thom Singer wrote about networking.  His 10 points on networking at a multi-day conference, with my thoughts, are:

Have a plan. Yes, totally agree.  Going into a networking event without a plan will leave you with warm fuzzies, perhaps, but not much achieved.

Bring plenty of business cards. Kind of… I bring them but I rarely hand out more than 4 or 5.  The only exception is that when people see my card they want it (it is quite creative)… so they get it for the novelty… but in reality most people don’t need it – they can google me or go to my main sites to find my contact info.

Do not focus on meeting celebrity speakers. Absolutely, totally agree.  Celebrity speakers usually don’t have the mental bandwidth to do their presentation and then do any more than shake your hand and smile.  They aren’t necessarily going to follow-up with you because they are “on their game,” and their brain is winding down.  Don’t worry about them at the event… try and engage with others.  (luckily I’m not a celebrity speaker and I LOVE when people talk to me after the presentation :)).

Talk to people sitting next to you. Yes, definitely.  It can be awkward, but it can be more awkward to not do this.

Ask questions of people you meet. This is networking 101 – ask them questions to help create conversation.  Perhaps a better way of saying this is BE GENUINELY INTERESTED IN PEOPLE YOU ARE TALKING TO.

Put your technology away. I have a hard time doing this but recently have tried it… I leave my laptop at home, or in the bag…. this has made a 1,000% difference.  Not distracted by email (outside conversations) and not having the appearance of HIDING behind my screen has allowed me to be more approachable, as well as be more intent on talking to others.

Read their stuff. He’s talking about their blog, etc. I don’t necessarily agree only because I’m too busy to read most blogs (even mine).  And, we’re all “too busy,” right?

Introduce others. This is a terrific tactic.  Try it the next time you are somewhere… as you do this more and more you’ll become a “power connector” (Keith Ferrazzi term)… it puts you in a position of power of authority because you get to the point where you seemingly know everyone.

Follow up. Ferrazzi wrote a post that said if you want to be better than 95% of your “competition,” simply follow up. That means for every 20 people I meet I should expect ONE thank you note, or email?  YOU should be that one!  Here’s my post on that: Keith Ferrazzi: How to be better than 95% of your competition

Do more than others expect from you. This is his 11th point in the list of 10 (clever, eh?).  This is more outside of the event than while you are at the event, but the point is, get beyond superficial.  Be thoughtful, kind, giving, etc.  Take that relationship somewhere.

(original post here) We all have to work at networking, even the “networking gurus,” but just because it is hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

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