by Nancy J. Lewis, MS, SHRM-CP, PHR, RCC
Intentional Networking is critical to your business and career success. You may feel you are a great networker, but do you really connect with those you meet at events? Whether you meet one or ten individuals; ask yourself, how many people did you really connect with and will have conversations beyond the event? Consider the following three strategies when you go out to your next networking event.
1. Have a plan before you go to your networking event. That means doing your homework before you show up. Why are you going? What goals have you set for yourself when you get there? Is this your targeted group you want to make connections with? Is someone there you know who can make key introductions for you? Is this the best use of your time? Evaluate and answer these questions for intentional networking and watch your connections increase.
2. Get used to not giving out cards to everyone you meet. Everyone you talk to is not a connection. Business card exchanges should not just be something you do out of habit but with purposeful thought. Often times, you may exchange cards because you want to be a conduit for putting the person you just met with someone in your network. The business card exchange may not be for you personally and that is okay. The real issue we have to address is simply giving out cards because we feel it is expected. How many times have you exchanged cards with someone you talked to for a minute or two? Did you follow up with them? Did the card even make it to your credenza in your office? Be willing to have great conversations with others; and, if there is not a reason to exchange cards be intentional, polite and keep it moving. The next person you meet might be the connection you have been waiting for. That is the power of intentional networking.
3. Get used to rejection. Develop thick skin and don't internalize every conversation that didn't go the way you thought it should. Be willing to smile and realize that when you practice intentional networking, everyone is not in the same place you are. Learn how to graciously move from those situations and remember every no is getting you closer to a yes. Rejection helps develop your character and confidence as you continue to grow your business and career.
Determine that your next event you attend you will practice intentional networking.
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