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Networking Tips for Success

August 5, 2010

In today’s third and final installment of August’s Ask the Experts, Marc Pelletier, Director of Client Services for BOND, provides valuable networking advice. If you missed Marc’s earlier advice, click here to read his thoughts on differentiating your company from your competition, and click here for tips on getting people involved in marketing plans.

You’re great at networking and business development – any tips you can provide those of us who are still trying to figure things out?

First off, I’m not sure that I am that great at networking and business development, but I do try my best. My number-one rule about networking is that I always try to help others. This may be making the right strategic introductions for people; everyone wants to meet someone, and I can probably make a connection for them. It might take a couple of links to get there, but it’s always possible.

Another rule that I follow when at “networking” events is to seek out someone I don’t know. Of course I greet and chat with my friends at the event, but NEVER with my co-workers (I see them every day). I especially like to introduce myself to someone who appears to be alone and perhaps unsure of why he or she is there. They almost always appreciate your outreach, and within a few moments, you should be able to introduce them to others with whom they can connect. And, they will remember your kindness.

Another tip is to follow up with people you have just met. Unless you have a photographic memory, try to write a couple of keywords that will allow you to recall your conversation and subjects for the next contact. You should probably write this on the person’s business card – he or she will actually appreciate your attention to detail, and will then be expecting your next call/e-mail (or my favorite, a handwritten card – I know, how retro is that?).

Last thing: If you see someone at an event, do not let your own inhibitions stop you from walking up to that person and introducing yourself. Whoever it is will be flattered that you have made the attempt. Just be sure to state why you are speaking to them, ask if it would be appropriate to follow up at a later time (and ask if it’s best to go through an assistant, or to someone else in the firm/organization). Then, thank the person, and move on – others are waiting right behind you!

Business development is another subject altogether, and I will answer as best I can in another blog or personally – look for me at the next SMPS event!

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