Making Every Contact Count

The only way to really understand networking is to immerse yourself in the medium. Take Web 2.0, for instance, and the revolution we’re seeing in social media. First popularized by our kids, sites like MySpace and Facebook have millions of users. And now adults are networking through these sites as they sport sophisticated interactive technologies, far beyond what is seen on sites like LinkedIn.

But technology rarely enhances the quality of interactions, it tends only to enhance the quantity. People often act differently when interacting with their computer screen. If you really want to make the most of a networking experience, nothing can replace the depth of a face-to-face experience.

To prepare for a face-to-face event, we offer this networking checklist from former WPI Venture Forum board member Alan Glou.

Planning
• Maintain a special briefcase or box in your car for access to your marketing material, including business cards and resumes.
• Keep your networking time focused on the kind of events that will attract prospective customers and/or the people they network with.
• Wear your nametag on the right side of your jacket for easy reading.
• Offer your card and ask for the other person’s card when meeting.
• Write comments, key reminders about that person on the back of the card.
• Process cards and notes immediately upon returning to your office.
• Prepare and practice your “Elevator Speech” – a one minute overview of yourself and what you can do for someone.

Presentation
• Participate responsible in at least one committee of every organization you join.
• Say “yes” if asked whether you will speak before a group.
• Freely share your good ideas with others. People will be inclined to share back.
• Use your ears more than your mouth. Listening, showing interest rewards more than dominating the conversation.
• Try to have someone introduce you; this breaks the ice much faster.

Happy networking!

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