Monday, June 3, 2013

Improve Your Networking Skills

We have all been there, attending a conference or social gathering of A/E/C professionals where we find ourselves in a room full of people – potential customers or teaming partners – that we don't know. Here are a few tips that can help you "work the room" and expand your network:

• Set a goal to introduce yourself to at least five people. You can't get to know someone if you don't take that first step in approaching them. You will be surprised that most people are receptive to a friendly introduction. 

• Have an "elevator pitch." You need to be able to tell someone, in a 30-second summary, about your company. It doesn't need to be detailed, but it does need to be interesting – enough so that they want to hear more. 

• Listen more than you talk. The more you listen…the more they will tell you about themselves, their business, etc. 

• Ask questions. You don't always have to carry the conversation. By asking interesting questions, you'll keep them talking. 

• Don't oversell. Remember, you are just trying to get to know them at this point. They aren't interested in a sales presentation. 

• Follow up. Don't toss their business card into your desk to collect dust. Drop them a quick email. Let them know that you enjoyed talking with them. Mention something specific from your conversation, such as how their kid's baseball game went. 

• Use an application (i.e. Outlook, Google, etc.) to help solidify your networking. Use the notes field in Contacts to remember information such as where they went to school, their spouse's name, and the hobbies that interest them. Also, use your calendar for follow-up reminders in a few weeks.

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