SmartMoney Magazine has a few good networking tips in its last issue, where they quoted Julia E. Hubbel saying:
Communicate your intense enthusiasm for your product or service. For
most entrepreneurs, this is an easy task. "You have to be passionate
about what you do," says Jaki Baskow, owner of Baskow & Associates,
a Las Vegas event-planning firm. She’s currently playing the Hollywood
card, raving to people that her company has now branched out and is
training celebrities to be public speakers (clients so far include
Wayne Newton, Goldie Hawn and Ben Vereen). She finds that an upbeat
manner is contagious, encouraging other people to share their passion
for what they do. "It really builds momentum," she says.
Highlight a unique or unusual aspect of your business. Kimberly
Phillips of Houston runs a company that provides party planning,
interior decorating and wardrobe consulting services. The unusual part?
She only works with pregnant customers (her company is called Mommies
Projects Inc.) ? a detail that goes over well, especially when she
attends events or conferences with fellow female business owners. "It
captures women’s attention when they find out that my company caters to
expectant moms," she says.
Don’t commandeer the conversation. The most successful networkers have
charisma, which means they don’t just try to prove their own importance
? they try to make the people they talk to feel powerful, too. "People
who have charisma make you feel special," says Hubbel. When you strike
up a conversation, make sure the person you talk to "feels like they
are on a stage and the spotlight is on them," she says. "Guide them to
topics that they want to talk about." In the end, charisma is "how
people feel when they walk away from you," she says.
Really hear what the other person is saying. "I think what’s important
is listening," says Lynn J. Griffith, president of Welcome Florida, a
travel agency in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., "I’m so enthusiastic about what
I do; it’s so much harder to talk to someone who does ? I don’t know ?
steel fabricating and try to find something interesting about it." But
stepping outside your comfort zone builds your knowledge base and often
comes in handy down the road. "Next week, you’ll hear [a client] say
‘I’m looking for someone in steel’," she says.
Keep in touch.
Collecting business cards is not enough; continuing the conversation at
later dates is critical to building a long-term relationship. "I never
lose contact with people," says Romana Djurovic, president of
ImageWest, a Las Vegas company that designs exhibits for trade shows.
Sometimes she’ll send a potential customer a news article with the
message "maybe this will interest you"; other times, she’ll use a touch
of humor and send a scrunchy ball as a stress-reliever. She’s even done
some digging to figure out customers’ birthdays, so she can send a
card. "Remind them you exist, and that you can add value to their
lives," she says.