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8 Techniques to Guarantee Maximum Success at Business Functions

By: Liz Pabon




In today?s competitive climate, the adage, ?It?s not what you know but who you know? couldn?t be truer. It?s the ?who you know? that leads to a new client, funding, great travel accommodations, etc.

There are some that say networking is simply talking to people while handing out a business card. I?m here to tell you that this is not effective networking.

Given today?s highly competitive and in some cases, saturated markets, networking is a tool that helps us cultivate new relationships without spending a lot of money. It's one of the most cost effective marketing tactics available in business!

Networking is the process of developing and maintaining quality relationships that enrich your life and empower you to achieve your goals.

It?s the cultivation of win-win relationships that are mutually beneficial.

If you are not networking (nurturing relationships and making connections) you are NOT working.

Successful networkers understand that there are key principles to follow to ensure success at business functions. Here are the top eight:

1. Adjust your attitude. Your objective is to work and build your network. If you?re having an especially taxing day, get ?into character.?

Use a technique that skilled actors use (no matter how they personally feel) to alter their mood called Emotional Memory. Here?s how it works, when you?re meeting people for the first time you?re essentially in ?selling? mode and must present yourself as favorably as possible. Right before a scene, actors often visualize a pleasant experience.

Before you attend a business function, particularly if you?re having an especially challenging day, close your eyes and recall how good you felt during a special experience (it can be a personal or professional experience). When you open your eyes, forge ahead with the same good feeling and see how quickly you get into character.

2. Work the crowd. Step out of your comfort zone. Don?t just talk with people you already know, make it your goal to talk with new people at every chance.

While it may seem easier to immediately look for someone you know, remember that your time is valuable and your objective at business functions is to make new connections.

That does not mean that you avoid people you?ve already met. It does however mean that you spend the majority of your time introducing yourself (yes, that?s right) to people that you don?t already know.

At business functions, think of your time as an expense line on your budget ? this is aside from any monetary cost involved in the business function itself. I?m talking about YOUR time.

When we consider that our time has a price tag associated with it, making it a point to work a room and get the most from our investment of time is not only essential, its good business.

3. Introduce yourself to someone new. Although it can be scary and nerve wracking, remember that they are there to meet someone new too.

Stand up straight, put a smile on your face, walk up to someone you don?t know and just say ?Hi, my name is???

4. Ask questions. The most powerful networkers know that at business functions, your primary objective (right after meeting someone new), is to get to know that new person and find common ground.

Finding common ground makes having a conversation more enjoyable and flows with greater ease. How do you establish common ground? By asking questions.

Much too often at business functions, we are focused on talking about ourselves and spend little time learning about others. The best way to establish common ground and build rapport is to place the focus on the other person.

Spend 99.9% of your time asking questions!

There?s a dual purpose to this method in that you not only get to learn about the other person, but it also allows you to better qualify each person that you meet.

You might find that after learning about someone, both personally and professionally, they are not a good fit for your business.

You might also discover that while they are not your target market, they are a good fit for other ventures that you?re involved with (philanthropy, associations, etc.) or are a good fit for other colleagues in your network.

Each encounter provides you with an opportunity to add someone new to your network, introduce people to one another within your network and position yourself as a valued ally.

5. Ask for their card. After all, how else will you stay in touch. They will ask you for yours as well but may or may not do anything with it.

Please do not assume that if you?ve given someone your card, they will call you. 9 times out of 10, they will not. Even if they say they will. Cultivating that relationship starts with you.

There are an alarming number of people that attend business functions, connect with new people, ask for their card and then do nothing. In technique number 8, we?ll discuss what to do with those cards once you collect them.

Quick Tip: While you should always feel comfortable asking for someone?s card, PLEASE do not make the mistake of handing out your business cards to those that don?t ask. If you, or someone you know, makes it a habit to walk into a room and hand out their card to everyone within a 3-feet radius, know that people will remember you ? for the wrong reason.

6. Call them by name. Make it a point to find people you?ve talked with during a business function and call them by name.

Nothing is sweeter than the sound of our own name.

They will not only be impressed (and remember you) but will show that you valued the time you connected.

This is quite different than investing your time at a business function with people you already know.

The objective here is to let those people you meet at the function know that you remembered them.

7. Introduce people you?ve met to one another. This falls under the ?give more than you receive? category.

If you meet people that you think may share a common interest (you?ll only know this by asking questions) or have a need to get to know one another, introduce them.

At business functions, you are considered a star when you show consideration and genuine interest in helping others.

8. The fortune is in the follow-up. Thanking people for talking with you is a crucial step in the networking process.

So many people take those few minutes of exchange for granted and don?t realize how thoughtful a simple thank you card is in building rapport. Particularly when that card, and any communication from that point forward, is personalized.

Strive to Personalize.

We want to show people that we care, that they are important and that we are someone worth adding to their network.

Quick Tip: When you get home from a networking event, sort your cards into two piles. The first are our ?A? prospects (those people that are a good fit for you) and the second, your ?B? prospects. Send everyone in your ?A? pile a personalized letter or thank you that affirms your meeting, send them your brochure and something that you promised; a referral, article, etc. Close with ?hope to see you at the next function.?

Your ?B? pile will also get a letter from you that acknowledges the event you were at, reminds them of what you do and the fact that you know they don?t need your services or product now but might later. Invite them to another event that might be helpful for them.

Networking is an ongoing process. Good networkers talk to people as if they really mattered. They make people feel important. They ask what they do or what they?ve been up to. They look for common ground. They remember names and make mental notes of important details; children, lifestyle, favorite hobbies and interests. They seem genuinely interested in what others have to say. And then, when the timing is right, they take the opportunity to seamlessly plant positive seeds about themselves ? their background, accomplishments, interests, passions, projects ? in a meaningful and measured way. Now go on, get out there and network!

Copyright 2006 Liz Pabon All Rights Reserved

About the author: Liz Pabon is a Personal Brand and Image Management Strategist. Liz publishes a monthly eZine entitled Keys to Success providing personal brand success strategies that work! Register for your subscription at http://www.head2toeconsulting.com

If you?d like to learn more about developing your unique personal brand, contact Liz at 916-788-2962 or email her at lizp@head2toeconsulting.com.

When not coaching her clients or presenting Small Business Branding workshops, Liz enjoys family time with her husband and four ?fur kids? in Rocklin, California.



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