We are in the building trades.  To many of us networking is a stretch. You want to make the most out your time networking.  I find the being prepared is best. 

Here are a few simple guidelines that will help you.

You wouldn’t go to a job without your toolbox would you?  Your toolbox, in the networking sense, will consist of your business cards and any brochures or flyers you want to bring along.  

Have a few photos from your portfolio with you.  The technology that is available these days allows for you to have a portfolio or short commercial message at your fingertips.   It is a piece of cake with your IPhone or IPad.   CD’s and DVD’s are also inexpensive.  It is still a viable way of handing out information.  Incidentally look where AOL is today, it wasn’t that long ago you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing stacks of the AOL CD’s

Your Toolbox should even have your nametag.   Some people, like me, can remember a name and face better if they also see a name.   It is just another way for people to remember, and that is the name of the game, so make it easy for them.

You are going to be asked,”What do you do?”  You need to be ready with a clear concise answer.  Practice what is called, in the business world, the elevator pitch. 

I say practice because nobody wants to do business with wish-washy.  Practice it till you can say it with pride and conviction.  A CD is full of good information but it will never make an impression like someone standing in front of you talking confidently and looking you in the eye.

Planning or setting a goal helps.  Too often people think, “There is no way I can remember everybody’s name.”  You should plan on getting to know two, three or four people well.  This will take the pressure off and is a more realistic goal. 

Networking is building a relationship and helping someone or connecting them with someone else who can help them.  It is easier to help two than ten people.

Arrive early.  This will give you time to gather your thoughts; go over your goals, “Do I have my business cards with me.”  “What kind of Client am I looking for?”

One final thing you need to remind yourself to do….. LISTEN!  God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.  Look at people when they talk to you. Give them full attention.  It is the easiest way to make a lasting impression, an impression as someone who really cares. 

People do business with people they like.  Being prepared gives you the ability to think clearly, stick to a goal, exude confidence, build trust and genuinely learn about someone and their business. You will make that favorable first impression and be able to help someone or their business, while they in turn will do the same for you.

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