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10 Steps to Successful Networking

"It's not what you know, it's who you know."

This old saying rings true in everything we do, especially in business. Finding contacts is key to the success of your business, and a great place to meet these contacts is at networking meetings or events. It is not enough just to attend networking gatherings, you need to know how to network. There are many sources of networking tips and information, but the following are ten tips that I find most useful.

1. Set a goal prior to the event

Figure out who will be in attendance. Decide who you would like to target and what you would like to take away from the event. Having a specific goal will ensure that you remain focused and will have success.

2. Pre-plan personal greeting

You need to get a person's interest right away or you've lost your chance. Planning a personal greeting before hand will be very helpful. The greeting should be not more than thirty seconds long, interesting, informative and about you. You need to sell yourself before you can sell a product or service.

3. Be first to arrive and last to leave

The longer you stay, the more contacts you will meet.

4. Be aware of how you smell

Sounds funny? It's really a very important part of how people react to you. Do not smell like a cigarette. Many people find it very disgusting, and it can create a negative first impression. Also, your favorite perfume or cologne may not be another person's favorite. Be sure that when applying these scents that you do so lightly. A strong scent can be overbearing and force people to go as far from you as they can.

5. Be positive and enthusiastic

Nobody like to be rejected, but if you don't at least try to talk to someone you may lose out on an opportunity. Keeping a positive attitude will increase the positive results. Additionally, nobody wants to be around an unhappy person. Be sure that you are in an upbeat mood before you enter the event and keep smiling the entire time.

6. Spend time with people you don't know

Although it is okay to spend some time with acquaintances you've already made, the majority of your time should be spent meeting new people. People with whom you are already friendly know what you offer. Networking meetings should enable you to expand your contact list.

7. Say the other person's name three times

A person's name is a pleasing sound for them. In addition, repeating the name will help you to remember it. People are really impressed when you remember their name the next time that you see them after you had only met briefly before.

8. Collect business cards with a purpose

When you leave you have a stack of business cards, great? It is only good to have a lot of business cards if each one allows you to an action. They should have notes on the back giving you a follow up opportunity with the person.

9. Learn what the other person does

You don't want to spend all of your time explaining what you do. First, find out what the other person does. Not only do people love to talk about themselves, but it will give you time to understand their needs and how you may be of service to them.

10. Dress for success

Attractive people receive attention. This doesn't mean you have to the be the star of a beauty pageant to meet contact. Anyone can be attractive with the right attire. Dress for a networking meeting as you would if you were going to visit your biggest client. A sharp, neat, and coordinated attire is sure to focus all eyes on you!

Martin Cohn is president of The Cohn Group, Inc., a full service public relations firm in Needham, Massachusetts. You can read more articles at

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