Networking can sometimes have a negative connation. People tend to ask, “What can you do for me?” instead of asking, “what can I do for you?” I always focus on the latter, more positive approach, as it throws the traditional definition on its side. I look at networking as similar to building bridges – it’s about using your resources both personally and professionally to build a bridge for someone to help get them where they need to go – whether that is an innovative idea, a better product, technology, safety or efficiency. And that approach is how you transform your partnership into a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship. So, throw the old networking idea you have out the window, embrace the new positive approach, and start networking with power with these five essential tips.
  1. Agendas are not just for business meetings.

    You never go into a business meeting without an agenda, so why should a simple social event be any different? Whether you are looking to start a relationship with someone you meet at a charity event, corporate conference, baseball game or the gym, your goals will be easier to achieve if you think of them before you attend the event. Why not…

    •  Meet one person new?
    • Give out one business card?
    • Have two questions ready to ask the speaker, someone you want to meet…
    • Write your goals down! When we write something down we are more likely to achieve it.

  2. Follow up and follow through

    Continuing conversation after a conference is the foundation for turning that relationship into a partnership and turning ideas into realities. Send a follow-up email the next morning to recap the conversation and share all of your contact details. I like to also send a handwritten note. Email is easy to write and easy to delete. A handwritten note stands out. 

     

  3. Plus one or plus none?

    The Power of a Date – pick your wingman wisely. A date can sometimes be helpful, but they can also hold you back. Your date (whether boyfriend, sister, co-worker or bff) should be able to hold their own if you’re off meeting people and making new connections.

  4. Listen & learn

    Larry King once said, “I never learned anything while I was talking,” and he was right! It’s better to impress someone by showing interest in them than to talk too much about yourself. Find a shared connection that continues the conversation… into the office and on to that promotion. You can empower others just by listening to them – and that can be a gift in itself.

  5. Reach Outside the Circle

    First Lady Jackie Kennedy had a rule…at social functions, of course you were invited with a guest, but when you crossed the threshold of the dining room you were seated at different tables. So reach outside of your circle at the conference…integrate new people into your conversation because you never know what conversation may be the one that could change your life.​