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7 Tips for Networking

7 Tips for Networking

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Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business. 7tips

But many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch  of strangers.

I’ve been asked to share my best networking tips at a meeting today of the National Association of Women Business  Owners in Philadelphia. Here are the most valuable tips I’ve come across  – and put to work myself – over the years:

1. Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost  counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better  strategy than getting there on the later side. As a first attendee, you’ll  notice that it’s calmer and quieter – and people won’t have settled into groups  yet. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners  yet.

2. Ask easy questions. Don’t wait around the edges of the  room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started,  simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings  you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies. If you’re  not a natural extrovert, you’re probably a very good listener – and listening  can be an excellent way to get to know a person.

3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about  relationship building. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don’t  need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get  the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner  with – people whose company they enjoy.

If a potential customer does ask you about your product or service,  be ready with an easy description of your company. Before the event, create a  mental list of recent accomplishments, such as a new client you’ve landed or  project you’ve completed. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list  and into the conversation.

4. Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm  for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about  why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is  often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it  creates a memorable two-way conversation.

5. Smile. It’s a simple – but often overlooked – rule of  engagement. By smiling, you’ll put your nervous self at ease, and you’ll also  come across as warm and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter  the room, or before you start your next conversation. And if you’re really  dreading the event? Check the negative attitude at the door.

6. Don’t hijack the conversation. Some people who dislike  networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The  most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other  people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what  they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a  conversationalist, not a talker.

7. Remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.

 

 

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Pablo Valle

Pablo F. Valle is a Program Manager in the Planning, Engineering, and Construction Department at The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. He manages diverse transportation engineering projects ranging from between $500,000 to $25 million in various engineering areas for the Houston metropolitan region.

Pablo is also an entrepreneur at heart. He is the Founder and President of Small Business Connexion, a Professional Business Organization helping businesses Learn, Grow, and Connect. Pablo also founded a local Houston Professional Business Network (the Latino Professional Business Network) that began with fifteen people and grew to over 4,200 members in less than three years. He has served in numerous leadership roles including; Treasurer and President of the American Society of Civil Engineers – Student Chapter, Board Member of the Chamber of Latino Entrepreneurs, President, Membership Co-Chair, and Secretary/Treasurer of the Texas Institute of Transportation Engineers Houston District. Among his peers, Pablo is known as the “Godfather of Networking”.

Pablo received his Bachelor of Engineering from the City College of New York and his Master’s degrees in Civil Engineering from The City University of New York – Graduate Center. He is the recipient of numerous awards including; The Minority Research Careers for Minority Scholar, the Hispanic Serving Institute Scholarship, and the City College of New York President’s award for outstanding leadership.

Pablo is married to his High School sweetheart Tanya N. Valle and together they have three boys; Justin Paul, Jeremy Timothy, and Jayden Christian Valle.

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