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Tips for Mastering the Art of Networking

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Masterful networkers know that courtesy is the foundation of professional connections. The whole process of networking is about being courteous, considerate and helpful to the people you meet. It’s important to be gracious, appreciative and supportive when you are working to develop key business relationships.

Polish your networking etiquette with these tips so that you
can focus on the people you are meeting rather than worrying
about what to say or do next.

BEFORE THE EVENT
1. Do your homework. Find out the purpose of the event and who
is likely to attend. Be prepared for the people you will encounter.

2. If a response is requested, check your calendar and reply
immediately. Let your host know as soon as possible if your plans change.

3. Think of how you will introduce yourself to others and
rehearse your lines.

4. Plan your icebreakers or conversation starters, and practice
them on your way.

5. Rehearse your exit lines as well so that you don’t get
stuck in conversation with just one person.

6. Read up on current events and listen to the news so that
you can engage in small talk no matter whom you meet.

7. Think about your arrival time. At a meal function, allow
time for networking before the food is served and the program begins. At a stand
up event, arrive before everyone has chosen conversation partners and is uninterruptible.

8. At meal functions, sit with people you don’t know rather
than your best friend or the crew from the office.

9. Introduce yourself to everyone at the table before you
sit down. Don’t wait for someone else to make introductions.

10. Give yourself a tag line. Say, “Hello, I’m Mary Brown,
owner of XYZ Company. We help ….” This will prompt the other person to offer
similar information, and you’ll have the beginning of a conversation.

11. When someone new approaches the table, take the initiative
and introduce yourself immediately.

12. Take the responsibility of introducing the other people
at the table, even if you have just met them yourself.

13. Include something in your introduction of other people
that helps them relate to one another and engage in conversation.

14. Handle the exchange of business cards discreetly. Don’t
pass a stack of business cards around the table unless someone specifically asks
you to (if someone asks, it is rude to refuse).

15. Initiate conversation with the persons sitting to both
your right and your left. Don’t monopolize a conversation with any one person
at the table to the exclusion of others.

In summary, be prepared. Don’t wait until after you have
arrived to think about what you want to say to the people you
meet.

Lydia Ramsey, author of MANNERS THAT SELL, keynote speaker and seminar leader, is a leading authority on business etiquette and protocol. To sign up for more FREE business etiquette tips, click here.

Tips for Mastering the Art of Networking
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