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  • Successful Networking Strategies

    Networking is a powerful tool for self-promotion. You can network anywhere, a restaurant lobby, an airport lounge, in an elevator.

    You don't have to be a public speaker to be a successful networker. You just need to be able to recognize the opportunity.

    If there is another person in your immediate space, then the situation is ripe for networking. Gene Call, author of Word of Mouth Marketing Training, offers these networking strategies:

    • Have goals about whom you'll meet. Your goal can be as simple as chatting up two new people every time you spend time in line, or as specific as seeking out every company president at a function you're attending.
    • Be genuinely interested in what others are saying and they'll be interested in you.
    • Always remember that networking is all business, and that your goal is to connect with people who can use your products and services. Avoid schmoozing and letting the true networking opportunities slip away.
    • Keep moving at business functions. Work the room and meet a wide variety of people.
    • Engage in business card collecting. Write notes on the back of the cards when you get them. The notes can jog your memory about who the person is and why he or she might be a good prospect.
    • Follow up. Call or write a personal note to everyone you've met to remind him or her about your products and services. You might also consider adding these new contacts to your mailing list.

    Do you find it difficult to walk into a roomful of strangers and strike up a conversation? You're not alone. Surveys show that public speaking situations, including networking, frighten people more than death itself.

    Why? People are afraid of rejection. They're afraid they'll do or say something that will make them look silly or incompetent.

    If you can overcome this natural reluctance to make the first move, you're likely to reap great benefits in the long run.

    "People love when you walk up and introduce yourself. It means they don't have to look for someone to talk to," says Sam Horn, author of Concrete Confidence."Don't worry about a clever opener. Just smile warmly, introduce yourself, and add a line about what you do."

    choirEven if you are gregarious and willing to take a conversational risk, making an initial contact can still be intimidating. So instead of concentrating on yourself and your fears, Horn recommends focusing your attention on others by using the "four-L" technique:

    1. Look at the other person with genuine interest.
    2. Lean forward slightly, as though to catch every word.
    3. Lift your eyebrows, which makes you look alert and interested.
    4. Level or equalize your conversation by making eye contact at the same level. In other words, if the person you're talking to is sitting, then sit down next to him or her.

    Raleigh Pinskey, author of 101 Ways to Promote Yourself advises, "Not everyone in the room is right for you, will like you, will buy from you… This is not negative thinking. This is pure positive thinking. If you understand this before you go in, you won't be upset when you are rejected or pushed aside."

    "Keep telling yourself that you are perfect as you are… and work on your networking skills accordingly."

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