Having just returned from another networking event, this time, San Francisco Small Business Week, we noticed that networking tends to be a lot like dating – Everything relies on your first impression! From bad breath, to talking with your mouthful, a lousy follow-up or forgetting someone’s name, people, including potential customers and/or business partners notice these things. A bad first impression not only reflects on you, but also on your business. In order to make your first impression a polished one, abide by these tried and true dos and don’ts of networking:
- Have your business cards with you at all times. Have a pocket for your cards, and a pocket for the cards you collect. If you need business card ideas that stand out, take a look at these creative cards featured on Mashable.
- Have a great handshake. Some handshakes are too firm, some are too soft, and some are just right.
- Have your elevator business pitch ready. Be clear and concise.
- Treat everyone with respect. You never know where your next customer or referral will come from.
- Keep in touch. So you met some great people/businesses that you’d like to keep in touch with, now what? The next step is reach out via social media, or email to stay connected. Here are some guidelines:
- Follow businesses you liked on their social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest) business pages.
- Connect on LinkedIn with folks you met and make sure to include where you met them and maybe even something you talked about. Also, make sure you have a updated picture on your profile. It’s best to be able to see/remember the person before you accept their invite to connect on LinkedIn:
Who are you Suzanne? Where did I meet you? A little context here would make all the difference.
- Follow up with people when you say you’re going to and with the information you promised. Nothing’s worse then an “I’ll call you” and then never hearing from them again (sound familiar?) Check out this great follow up from Linda at the Women’s Network. She follows up with helpful information and in a very timely manner.
- Try to “hard sell” someone on your product during the first meeting. You’re just getting to know each other so tell them about your company but don’t try to get them to sign up or buy just yet.
- Talk about yourself too much. Just like dating, you need to find out about the other person by asking questions and listening to their answers. We’ve all met that person that is all, “Me, me, me” and no one sticks around to talk to them for long.
- Drink too much. Like Patti Stanger says on Millionaire Matchmaker,“There’s a two drink maximum.” After two drinks you might start to commit some of the other don’ts listed here.
- Use the wrong name when you email or connect with the person on LinkedIn. We have to admit, we’ve done this before when we were in a rush, but we try to never repeat that mistake. Here’s a LinkedIn invite we just received as a perfect example:
Jeff did a great job saying where we met but who’s Stacy? My name is Jenny! Maybe the two drink rule kicking in?
- Don’t try to add your new contact on their Facebook personal profile page unless they invite you to. It’s their personal page and you don’t want to overstep your business/personal relationship.
Are there any dos and don’ts you think we’ve missed? Have any networking advice of your own? Share with us!
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