Use the Power of Meaningful Networking to Create Client Contacts
by Chris King

Years ago when I attended what were termed as "Networking Events" we basically walked around smiling and exchanging business cards. When I got back to the office, I would look through my handful of cards, not remembering any of the faces that went with the names on the cards, and eventually threw most of them away. I don't remember anyone ever calling me because of this time-wasting ritual. Networking when performed with a plan and with panache, on the other hand, can reap huge benefits including client leads, helpful referrals, needed information, or business. Let's take a look at networking with a purpose that produces results.


Start with knowing why you are networking. Before attending any kind of event, trade show, and/or gathering, ask yourself why you are taking the time to do this and what you hope to gain from the networking. Just like having a business plan and setting goals give us direction, making a networking plan with goals will add value to the time you spend. I often attend gatherings to touch base with people I know, plus meet at least one new person, and learn at least one new piece of information or find the solution to one problem - and there are always problems to solve now that I am doing so much computer work. I even suggest jotting down your goals and the questions you are planning to ask the people you meet. When we ask someone for advice or a solution, they are not only flattered by the attention, we also get the answers to a nagging question with which we've been grappling.


Rather than racing around trying to talk with as many people as possible, focus on one or two conversations. There was a time when I would set my networking goal to talk with as many people as possible. It was lively and fun, but from a follow up business standpoint, not very fruitful. I now focus on having one or two in-depth conversations, take down some notes on a business card, and follow-up within a few days. This takes the superficial quality out of the meeting and I have made some excellent on-going contacts. If the person you are talking with asks about some information you have mentioned, make a note to get back to them, either through e-mail, on the phone, or by snail mail. Actually, dropping a handwritten note or card to someone, along with a brief article about a topic you discussed, you will make a long-lasting impression. So few people take the time to write notes today, your gesture will be unforgettable.


Handle business cards with professionalism and thought. Remember, we are not in the business card give-and-take mode. Yes, I always hand my card to someone I am interviewing or have a designated appointment with. But, in a networking event situation, I always wait until the other person asks me for my card before foisting it on them. And just because someone pushes their card into my hand, I don't automatically give them one of mine. This is just my belief, but this way I leave with the cards of people I want to see again. However, I am always ready. I wear a jacket or outfit with two pockets - one with my cards and one for the cards I am handed. This makes the transition of cards smooth and easy. Also, I always have up-to-date cards with me. I feel that there is nothing more unprofessional than someone handing me a card with a phone number or other information crossed out or written in. Business cards are so reasonably priced, there is no excuse for handing out a poor excuse for a card. You can even print up a few on your computer, although many of these are made with low-grade paper.


Be on the lookout for a variety of networking opportunities. When attending meetings, seminars, classes, and presentations by others, you will have a chance to meet and talk with people who are also attending because they have similar interests. Being active in associations and clubs in your field of endeavor is a great way to become known as a good and dependable worker. Now that I am a free agent, I find that all of the work I am doing - and I am extremely busy - has resulted from contacts I have made in the past through serving on committees or boards. I am also on the lookout for networking opportunities that pop up during my daily routines. For example, I often see people at the grocery store, the library, and coffee shops. Just today I saw a woman at the store with whom I had worked organizationally years ago, and after I asked what she was doing now, she, of course, asked me the same. When I told her "web design" her eyes lighted up because the person who had been maintaining her business site just moved out of town. We exchanged business cards, and there is a good chance we will at least discuss web design in the near future.


Remember, networking in today's tough market is a necessity. And with a bit of imagination, the opportunities to make it successful are all around us. Go to it, have fun, and make lots of excellent contacts!

Let me know how you do! I love your FEEDBACK!

 


Hot News:

A brand new FREE eclectic e-newsletter, Career Success Planning, is on the way. I will be contacting former sbscribers to Portfolio Potpourri and all who have taken the Portfolio Career Self Test to subscribe to the new FREE e-newsletter. Use the form below to sign up!

Name
Email
Email Marketing by TrafficWave.net

We never sell names and/or e-mail addresses, and if you ever wish to "opt-out" that's not a problem.

 

Contact Chris King at:
chris@creativekeys.net
or at: 36250 Lakeshore Blvd.
#303
Eastlake, Ohio 44095

Phone: (440) 918-1313

 

 

 

 

Attention! Renaisance Souls! You Can Have and Do It All!

Thirteen Portfolio Careerists answered my call, so you will get the full story

Click HERE for additional information.

 

When you visit this
site we hope you are not only learning how
to live a successful and rewarding freelance
life, but also having fun while here.



The
Free
Agent
needs
to be
SHARP
and
have STYLE.

By developing your
own personal and professional STYLE,
you will live your life
on purpose - with
class, pleasure and success in every area. We have created a Special Report, 125 Ways to Develop
Your Personal and Professional STYLE.


Click HERE for more information.


We love to hear from you! send us your questions, comments and useful tips! Just click HERE!




Free Agent Nation: America's New Independent Workers
With so many of America's workers operating as "free agents," this author offers analysis of this "new economy" and advice on how to succeed in it.


The 101 Best Freelance Careers
Make your own hours, make your own decisions, and make money doing it ... with this cutting edge guide to trends, options, and opportunities for freelancers.

Successful Freelancing: The Complete Guide
In this up to the minute guide, writers, consultants, artists, and all other types of freelancers will find the essential information they need to set up and run a profitable, successful business.

Power Freelancing: Home-Based Careers
Running a home based business is the way more and more of us want to work. This will help freelance designers, consultants, writers, computer service providers, sales people or anyone who wants to work for themselves.