There are books and blogs on the how-to’s of networking. You can learn the art of starting a conversation and ending a conversation. You can learn when and how to offer your business card and when not to. You can get tips on selecting a group to break into at a cocktail party and then how to break into the group. And you can get advice on how to construct your ‘elevator pitch’ and tag line.
But none of this will matter if you don’t have the right attitude. We all project our attitude outward. People want to be associated with success and if you appear successful, they will want to be with you. The more you consciously project this positive attitude, the more the appearance of confidence will become the reality. Assuming that everybody wants to hear what you have to say will make it a reality. This is a self-actualizing process. Success breeds success. The more you do it, the better you’ll do it in the future.
In business networking, as with all other types of networking, the objective is to form a relationship - to get referrals. It is important to note that one must project a pay-it-forward approach. And it is not so much what you say as how you say it. Have a firm hand shake; look into their eyes, (and don’t flicker – pay attention). Listen and ask substantial questions before you volunteer anything about yourself. If you project a me-first attitude, you’ll get nothing.
Your objective should be to find the few referrals sources with whom you have business synergy. And since you will never have the time to fully explore the possibilities or form meaningful relationships in the time allotted to this first meeting, schedule a one-on-one follow up meeting to better understand ways in which you can work together. I say “relationship” because people do business with people they like and respect. If you keep this idea firmly in mind, you will prosper. So, stand up straight, pull your shoulders back and plant a smile on your lips. Believe! This will be fun.