Advice Given for Making the Most Of Networking
Hackettstown, NJ You’ve just arrived at a kitchen/bath industry
function, and you don’t know anyone. What do you do head for the
hors d’oeuvres table, pace the room nervously or try an effort at
networking that may ultimately prove highly profitable?
The answer, according to the National Kitchen & Bath
Association, is to following the advice of Ivan Misner and Susan
RoAne, authors of the books Networking for Success and How to Work
a Room, respectively.
Among the tips offered by the NKBA, courtesy of the two authors,
are the following dozen:
- Don’t be afraid to approach people. Standing alone “doesn’t
make sense today when you’re at a professional association meeting
where contacts and connections are standing six deep around the
room,” the NKBA observes. “You’ll miss tremendous business, career
and social opportunities.”
- Develop several different ways to start conversations. These
can include commenting on the reason for the event, or asking
others why they chose to attend.
- Know how to describe your business in one or two sentences,
including a story about how you handled a recent project or
assisted a client.
- Know what you wish to accomplish at the event. For example,
your purpose may be meeting a certain number of people, or finding
a particular resource.
- Be sure your actions are appropriate for the event. For
instance, a networking-type of event is far more appropriate for
developing business connections than, say, a formal social
- Come prepared. Carry business cards, a pen and even a small
notebook for making notes that are too extensive to fit on the back
of a business card. Exchange business cards when appropriate, and
make notes on the back of other people’s cards or in your
- Be positive, friendly and enthusiastic. Take the
in starting conversations. Listen more than you talk, and avoid
making negative comments about the location, the food, the
or your host.
- Try to limit the time you spend with each person you meet.
Excuse yourself gracefully and politely, so that both you and the
person to whom you’re speaking can circulate and meet a variety of
- Provide a good lead or referral whenever possible. Listen for
the need. Tell the prospect you know someone who offers that
service, and describe the person or company you have in mind. Ask
the prospect if it’s all right to have that person call. Above all,
don’t knowingly supply poor leads to someone you meet.
- Follow up in a timely manner with the people you meet and the
contacts they give you. In addition, send a thank you note to
sources of new connections, and keep them informed of your
progress. If your follow up is weak, people will feel you don’t
make good on your word.
- Bring your “whole self” to the event your personal side and
range of interests, as well as your business side.
- Never stop networking. “It’s a good idea to maintain and
continuously expand your professional networks,” suggests the NKBA.
“You never know when you’re going to need a future reference.”