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How to successfully network at a mixer or event

Networking and developing strategic relationships is an important part of any business. Getting off on the right foot and making a good impression is important if you are looking to land that account or find a strategic partner to send you leads.

Many businesses sometimes have trouble figuring out how to network themselves effectively. This is an outline that can give anyone the right tools and appropriate etiquette to network successfully.

A) Bring lots of business cards (more than you need)
         1. Bring a pen
         2. Write on the business cards you receive, any important information about
         that person so that you remember them (this also lets them know you are
         listening to them)

B) Practice listening and asking lots of questions
         1. Don't be in a hurry to share about yourself or your business
                  a. Anytime you ask about someone’s business, they will always be happy
                  to tell you all about themselves and what they do
         2. Discover what needs they have for their business
         3. Discover what needs they have personally
         4. Don’t be known for being a talker, let them do that

C) Have a scripted mini 45 second presentation
         1. Practice it a lot
         2. Direct the presentation to focus on areas you might be able to serve them
                  a. Based on what they said when you were listening so well
                  b. This is why it is important to go second

D) Be easily identifiable
         1. Where a name tag and make sure it is legible and has your name and your
         company name
         2. Dress for success. Business casual is usually most appropriate.
                  a. If you have a costume, uniform or clothes that are typical to your
                  profession then wear that (you will stand out)
                  b. A suit can sometimes communicate to people that you are a sales person
                  so don’t over dress
                  c. If you have a shirt, hat, or something with your logo or business name
                  on it, that might be a good idea

E) Moderation on food and beverage
         1. Although its good to be memorable, drunk is not the way you want to be
         remembered and is a business turn off
         2. Don't be a pig. When you eat, don't network
                  a. Take a break from networking to enjoy the food
                  b. Having a drink in hand is acceptable while networking
         3. Important Note: It's hard to network or pass out business cards with a plate
         in your hand and drink in the other

F) Language and character
         1. Don't be vulgar or use foul language
                  a. Bad language will always degrade your business, your profession and
                  your character
         2. Use professional business language without using jargon that others may
         not understand
         3. Be personable
                  a. Don’t talk only business; personal connection is important
         4. Don't interrupt conversations just to introduce yourself

G) After mixer follow-up
         1. Craft a simple email letting them know that it was nice to meet them
         2. follow up by phone with anyone that you thought might be either interested
         in your services and set an appointment
         3. Invite key businesses to your networking group

The best sales people, owners and CEOs of businesses all over the country have
practiced these tips and general rules of etiquette. You won’t become an expert
overnight, but by being committed to attending Chamber events on a regular basis, you
will find it easier and easier to make important networking connections.

Many business owners feel a little intimidated by the prospect of networking in a large
crowd. The best practice is to start by ignoring the crowd and focus on connecting one-
on-one with businesses, one at a time. If you find it challenging to introduce your self to
people, find a small group of 3 or more and just stand and listen. Eventually, someone
will ask you about what you do.