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The Facts

How to Get the Most Out of Networking -- By Joanna Smyth

Date: 25 - 10 - 2008
Networking is a must for any business, whether they are starting out or whether they are well established. Because not only do you make new contacts but you can resume old ones, find new leads, and help others to find them too.

The art of networking is fairly easy but can be a daunting prospect. The main thing to remember is you can't rush in and expect to meet everyone, make instant sales and make a big buck from your new 'friends'. Networking is about building relationships, about giving as well as receiving (sorry if this sounds like a sermon) and having a good time.

Mostly it is about communications. Talk to people you meet, listen to what they say and see if you can help them and if they can help you.

So to make the most of it, here are my top tips:

1. Try to find out who is going beforehand and see who may be interesting for you to get to know.

2. Set yourself objectives. For example, it could be to meet and chat to three new people. It is unrealistic 
            to expect to talk to everyone.

3. Dress appropriately. This doesn't have to mean a suit. Smart casual is the key - this is about     
     socialising not about having a business meeting.

4. Arrive early. It is always easier to walk into a room with one or two people in and start up a conversation.

5. Wear a name badge, and pin it on your right lapel, as that is the direction the eye is naturally drawn to.

6. Walk in the room with confidence and remember your objectives.

7. If you are stuck for someone to talk to, learn the art of politely joining in a conversation. All 
need do is approach a group and ask if they mind you joining - nobody is going to say no.

8. Don't get stuck with the same person but politely excuse yourself. You are all there to network, so the person you have been talking to should be keen to move on too.

9. Take your business cards but only give these to people if they ask for them. If they don't ask but you give them out anyway, the chances are they will end up in a drawer.

10. Follow up your networking events by contacting people you have got on with but don't just email everyone regardless - you may end up emailing someone who was on the list to attend but never made it!

So that's it - don't be scared, just get out there and get networking

Jo Smyth
Coutts Smyth Communications
Intelligent writing - effective PR

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