The 10 Commandments For Working a Mixer
Leave out any of these strategies, and your networking is just a waste of
By Ivan Misner
Do you suffer from "butterfly-itis" at the very mention of networking at
business functions? If you answered yes, you are not alone. Many
entrepreneurs get a bit uncomfortable when it comes right down to walking up
to someone and starting a conversation. Many others are concerned about
getting effective results from the time they spend networking.
The process doesn't have to be traumatic, scary or a waste of time. When
done properly, it can truly make a difference in the amount of business your
company generates. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth
of resources and contacts that will help make your business very successful.
Use the following ten commandments to help you network your way through your
next business networking event:
1. Have the tools to network with you at all times. These include an
informative name badge, business cards, brochures about your business, and a
pocket-sized business card file containing cards of other professionals to
whom you can refer new business.
2. Set a goal for the number of people you'll meet. Identify a
reachable goal based on attendance and the type of group. If you feel
inspired, set a goal to meet 15 to 20 people, and make sure you get all
their cards. If you don't feel so hot, shoot for less. In either case, don't
leave until you've met your goal.
3. Act like a host, not a guest. A host is expected to do things for
others, while a guest sits back and relaxes. Volunteer to help greet people.
If you see visitors sitting, introduce yourself and ask if they would like
to meet others. Act as a conduit.
4. Listen and ask questions. Remember that a good networker has two
ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately. After you've learned what
another person does, tell them what you do. Be specific but brief. Don't
assume they know your business.
5. Don't try to close a deal. These events are not meant to be a
vehicle to hit on businesspeople to buy your products or services.
Networking is about developing relationships with other professionals.
Meeting people at events should be the beginning of that process, not the
end of it.
6. Give referrals whenever possible. The best networkers believe in
the "givers gain" philosophy (what goes around comes around). If I help you,
you'll help me and we'll both do better as a result of it. In other words,
if you don't genuinely attempt to help the people you meet, then you are not
networking effectively. If you can't give someone a bona fide referral, try
to offer some information that might be of interest to them (such as details
about an upcoming event).
7. Exchange business cards. Ask each person you meet for two
cards-one to pass on to someone else and one to keep. This sets the stage
for networking to happen.
8. Manage your time efficiently. Spend 10 minutes or less with each
person you meet, and don't linger with friends or associates. If your goal
is to meet a given number of people, be careful not to spend too much time
with any one person. When you meet someone interesting with whom you'd like
to speak further, set up an appointment for a later date.
9. Write notes on the backs of business cards you collect. Record
anything you think may be useful in remembering each person more clearly.
This will come in handy when you follow up on each contact.
10. Follow up! You can obey the previous nine commandments
religiously, but if you don't follow up effectively, you will have wasted
your time. Drop a note or give a call to each person you've met. Be sure to
fulfill any promises you've made.
About the Author:
Called the "Father of Modern Networking" by CNN and the "Networking Guru" by
Entrepreneur magazine, Dr. Misner is considered one of the world's leading
experts on business networking and has been a keynote speaker for major
corporations and associations throughout the world. He has been featured in
the L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times, as well as numerous
TV and radio shows including CNN, CNBC, and the BBC in London.