Like it or not, we all have to network like mad to get new business. Whether you’re a shrinking violet or a commanding bully who needs to dominate every conversation, there are tips and best practices for working a room in under ten minutes. Personally, I’m shy, the quintessential behind-the-scenes persona, but put me into a business situation, and I’m on, super-focused, and unstoppable. Here’s my advice offering best practices to work a room in under ten minutes.
1. Wear a nametag that identifies both your name and your company.
2. Always have plenty of business cards. (Even if you don’t have a job, be certain to have business cards with your name and contact info.)
3. Every business gathering breaks into small groups that can be easily navigated. Be certain to visit every group.
4. Offer your hand and introduce yourself and the name of your company. (9 times out of ten) if your company is not a recognizable brand, you will be asked what you do.
5. Be prepared to state succinctly in less than 30 seconds who you are and what you do. Make certain that how you describe what you do is clearly different from others who have the same occupation. E.g. “Hi, I’m Patricia Vaccarino, I’m the CEO of a media outlet PR for People, where we publish real news about real people.”
6. Hand out your business cards to each person in the group and collect as many as you can.
7. Spend no more than five minutes with each group. Leave as soon as you have either collected a card or have made introductions with everyone in the group.
8. Spend even less than five minutes with a drone, i.e., someone who is only skilled at hearing himself talk and is dismissive of everyone else in the group. There are two kinds of drones. One is completely boring and speaks in a monotone, the other is a drama queen, inherently narcissistic and although interesting to watch, will never make any time to benefit you.
9. Allow extra time for a person when there is a “connection,” some spark that indicates that you will have an ongoing business relationship.
10. Right after the event, make a note of the date and occasion on each business card then triage the business cards between the drones and the connections.
11. Take the ten minutes to Link-in and Facebook, and update your professional database with your new connections!
12. Make a short list of everyone you need to reconnect with to plan the longer meeting that will produce business, and plug it into your calendar. Set up notifications or email reminders so you remember who you need to contact.
Patricia Vaccarino has over 25 years' expertise working with a wide range of national and international clients, in all areas of public relations: managing worldwide campaigns for global companies and developing strategy for small companies, startup ventures, and individuals. She has written award-winning film scripts, press materials, articles, speeches, Web content, marketing collateral, and six books. Please see her press kit.