Networking For Success (II)

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Networking is an effective way to spread your value through those around you. Understanding the basic mechanics of networking will increase you success in delivering the right message about yourself to others. In this module, you will learn how to do the following:

  • Minimize you nervousness
  • Using business cards effectively
  • Remember names

Minimizing Nervousness

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Being nervous is a common occurrence when meeting new people, but being overly nervous when meeting people could be seen as a negative trait. You should always try to minimize being nervous. Nervousness comes from fear of the unknown. Meeting new people brings a level of not knowing and this could cause nervousness to manifest. While being a little nervous is normal, extreme nervousness could result in a very negative experience for both you and the other people you are meeting.

Being with someone who is obviously nervous is reason enough to move on to the next person. Visible nervousness like excessive sweating, breathing heavy, twitches, etc. could be very distracting and affect your ability to network effectively.

Here are five quick steps to help reduce nervousness:

  1. Prepare for the event. The more prepared you are, the less nervous you will be. Gather as much data about the event and create a plan. Avoid putting yourself in situations that will cause you to scramble at the last moment.
  2. Think positively before and throughout the event. Avoid thinking negative thoughts or worse case scenarios. This type of thinking will only increase your nervousness. 
  3. Practice what you are going to say and do. This is a common technique for public speaking and it helps reduce the fear of speaking in public. This works the same for networking events. 
  4. When at the event, focus on the present. Avoid thinking ahead. Make small goals that you want to achieve at the event. Thinking about future events because of the event could result in unneeded stress.
  5. Finally, remember to breathe deeply and monitor you physical reaction to the situation. Take breaks and refresh. 

Using Business Cards Effectively

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Everyone carries business cards and they are usually given out when networking. The goal of this lesson is to make the best use of your business card. Using business cards should not only be used for specific networking events or contain basic contact information. 

Here are eight ways to increase the effectiveness of your business cards:

  1. Always keep business cards on you even when you are on your personal time. This will enable you to give someone your card when an unexpected meeting occurs. 
  2. Always carry your business cards in a special holder. This will keep them neat and presentable at all times.
  3. Take advantage of bulletin boards at restaurants and other public areas where they allow the placement of business cards. 
  4. Whenever you have to use a piece of scrap paper, use the back of your business card. This way the person receiving the card (even if they are not the intended party) will take it with them and keep it. This could lead to him or her giving it to someone else in the future.
  5. Put something useful on the back of your business card. Perhaps you can put your mission statement or inspirational quote. 
  6. Always include a business card in all your correspondences. This will give the recipient something to put in their wallets.
  7. Get business cards for all your employees of your business or department.
  8. Always give a business card to every new person you meet, even if they are not your intended audience. 

Your business cards are an effective tool for networking. The basic idea is to make them interesting and to give them out whenever possible.

Remembering Names

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When you are meeting people, it will be important for you to remember names correctly. Forgetting someone’s name could be seen as a common problem and this is usually forgiven. However, when you are able to remember names, people will find this a positive trait and they will be impressed. 

Use the CARE model to help you remember names better.

  • Commit to remember names: making a conscious effort to remember names will make this a priority when meeting people. You may need to write this down as a goal. Later in this workshop, we will learn how to make SMART goals. 
  • Associate names to other things and events: when meeting someone new try to associate that person’s name to the event or place where you met them. When you do this, you will begin the memorizing process. 
  • Repeat their names: throughout your conversation with the new person repeat their names as much as possible without being too obvious. Make sure you use their name when you say good-bye. 
  • Engage yourself in the conversation: when a person introduces himself or herself and they say their name, become engaged in the conversation and focus on learning about that person, and focus on learning their name using the techniques discussed previously. Avoid thinking about what you are going to say next or about other things in general. Remained focused and you will remember names better.

Case Study 

Mary’s knees knocked loudly. Her stomach turned. Mary had never been to a networking event. Mary just knew she stuck out like a sore thumb. Diana noticed the beads of sweat pooling around Mary’s brow. Diana’s eyebrow quirked up. She asked if Mary needed assistance. Mary’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. Mary needed more help than Diana realized. Diana took over and paraded Mary around like a prop until Mary became comfortable dealing with a crowd. Soon, Mary mimicked Diana’s behavior and found herself smiling and passing out business cards like they were candy. Mary knew that if Diana hadn’t swooped in to show her the ropes that the networking event would have been a giant thorn in her side for years to come.