In fact, improving my networking skills was one of the reasons I wanted to attend the presentation, which was called “Working the Room.” The speaker was Diane Roundy, Director of Growth & Business Development for Schenck S.C. (a BBB accredited business) and also a member of the Board of Directors for the Green Bay Packers. Whether it’s fundraising for one of the many community organizations she’s involved with, or new business development for Schenck, if there was an MVP for the sport of networking, Diane would get my vote.
It was an hour of enlightening and entertaining tips on how someone can improve their networking skills, and lay the groundwork to find and win over new clients. Here are a few quick and easy tips from Diane that can immediately improve your networking skills:
Whenever you introduce yourself at a networking event, it should be in the following format: “Hello, my name is (first name, last name) and I’m with (company name). We specialize in (whatever your company’s specialty is).” Forget about the 30-second “elevator speech”. It’s too much information. The above format is short, sweet, and to-the-point.
Always wear a name badge, and wear it on your right-hand side. Why? When you shake people’s hands, your name badge will be in their direct sight line, and they will see your name without awkwardly looking away (which is what they’d have to do if your name badge was on your left-hand side). You want to make it easy for them to remember your name.
Forget about the hard sell. If you’ve just met someone, trying to sell them your products or services in the first meeting – or asking if you can call them tomorrow to talk about your products or services – is too pushy. Instead, try a softer sell. Ask them if they would mind if you “followed up with them sometime”. Diane says it usually takes about seven “touches” with a person before you should ask them for something.
Be prepared. Before you go to a networking event, try to find out who will be sitting at your table (if possible), or who will be attending the event that you would like to meet. Next, find a handful of things that you could talk about. Read the newspapers and be “in the know” on current events. Do you share any common interests?
These were some of my favorite tips. Do you have any others? If so, feel free to share in the comments below.
Written By: Susan Bach, NE Regional Director at the BBB Serving Wisconsin