Prepare to Network.

Created On: 11 July, 2016 Created By: Amber Travis-Ballinas, Career Coach at Career Creators
*This is the fourth in a series of posts discussing the concept of networking. Be ready. Networking can occur anywhere at anytime. You should ALWAYS be networking because 80% of employment and business opportunities are earned through the process of networking. Maximize each networking opportunity by ALWAYS being prepared to network. Personal image. Image and appearance are important to creating a favorable impression. You want to be approachable, so you can easily meet new contacts during any networking opportunity. Dress and groom appropriately for any situation, venue, or audience at all times whenever you are out in public. Avoid attire that draws excessive attention to you. If ever unsure what attire is appropriate--err on the side of professional conservatism. Oh…behave! Appropriate behavior depends on the situation, venue, and common culture. To avoid awkward situations, practice proper etiquette based on the situation and cultural norms. You should ALWAYS be polite, professional, and be on your best behavior. Research common culture and appropriate manners, if you are going to be in an unfamiliar setting. The greeting. Greeting contacts appropriately is crucial. The appropriate greeting depends on the situation and cultural norms. Sometimes hugs or kisses on the cheeks are appropriate greetings. Other times, shaking hands or bowing would be the most appropriate greeting. If you are not sure, watch other how other people behave and follow their lead. The introduction. Introduce yourself by stating your full name, then, make your pitch. Just like an advertisement for a branded product, have a brief, memorable value proposition statement about yourself, your company, or the product / service that you represent. This statement should explain the relevant attributes offered and how these attributes would benefit the contact. The pitch should be authentic, but also well rehearsed, so you sound natural and confident. Say what? Prepare 4-5 interesting open-ended questions that would be appropriate to instigate a conversation with anyone you meet. Avoid the question, “What do you do?”Research current events and industry-related topics, so you can speak intelligently and give an opinion, if asked. Of course, avoid having discussions about anything controversial like politics, religion, or sex. The toolkit.Never be without a business card!Keep business cards, a pen, and a calendar available at all times. Maintain a small expandable file box in your vehicle or your backpack that includes extra business cards, business brochures, notecards with large and small envelopes, pens, a hard copy of your most updated resume, and other relevant materials--like product samples or your portfolio. There is no substitution for daily preparation. Being prepared to network anywhere at anytime requires daily attention. Take the time to dress and groom appropriately to create a positive image before you leave the house. Stay informed of current events and industry trends. Update and practice your greeting and introduction / ‘pitch’. Keep your toolkit well stocked. Success! Preparation builds confidence and allows you to maximize every opportunity to make meaningful connections and build mutually beneficial relationships with new and existing contacts.
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