After years of successful networking we have found that many people attend events regularly and just can’t figure out what they are doing wrong. Often networkers find they are just handing out business cards, but are failing to increase their network, gain leads, and create new sales. Here are some great tips on going from being a networker to being a great networker, and it’s all about NOT giving out your card.
Ask for their business card. Don’t hand out yours.
Seems a bit odd, right? A common misconception we see in networking is that if you are exchanging business cards, you are successful. That’s not entirely correct. Networking requires more effort than just handing out and receiving business cards. While an introduction is needed, often the person you hand your card to without them asking for it won’t remember, or care to remember you just a few minutes later.
Instead of just handing out and receiving cards you should ask for someone’s card, ask them about themselves and their role at their organization. Expressing an interest about them will make them spark an interest about you. If you know a competitor or anything about their industry, tell them. People love talking about themselves.
Your role has just begun. Actively participate in listening. Focus on the person speaking and while it’s quite a challenge, attempt to leave yourself out, at least for a while. After asking qualifying questions, such as their role and duties at their organization, make detailed inquiries. Once you have established that the person you are speaking with isn’t the copy boy or an intern, it is appropriate to ask how they got into their industry. Find common interests outside of the office and speak about those items. Before you know it they are putting your number in their phone and introducing you as their new best friend.
You will cover more ground and be memorable without ever handing out a single card. Now, this doesn’t mean that everyone is worth the 10 minute conversation, and when someone asks for your card by all means hand it over. The difference in the approach is that you will be considered personable and memorable, something that many networkers are not.
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