If the thought of “Networking” at business functions turns your stomach in knots—then you’re not alone!
Networking doesn’t have to be traumatic, according to Scott Simon executive director of the St. Louis chapter of Business Network International (BNI). With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources and opportunities.
Simon offers the following Ten Commandments of Networking:
1. Have tools to network with you—business cards, nametag and brochures.
2. Set a goal for the number of people you’ll meet—don’t leave until you’ve met your goal.
3. Act like a host not a guest—volunteer to greet people or act as a conduit.
4. Listen and ask questions—a good networker has two ears and one mouth, use them proportionally.
5. Don’t try to close a deal—networking is about developing relationships, meeting people at events is the beginning of the process, not the end.
6. Give leads or referrals wherever possible—giver’s gain!
7. Exchange business cards—ask for two, one to keep and one to share.
8. Manage your time effectively—spend 10 minutes maximum with each person you meet, practice your get-away phrases, and don’t linger with associates and friends.
9. Write notes on the backs of business cards collected—record interesting things that will help you remember them.
10. Follow up—you can do the first nine perfectly, but without effective follow through, you will have wasted your time.