The first impression is everything when you meet someone. This is especially true when you are networking at a business function. That first impression can land you a job or a promotion in the future, so accurate networking advice is critically important prior to a networking event. The most effective greeting methods help you stand out when you first introduce yourself.
A great piece of networking advice is to position yourself towards the center of the room upon arrival. This puts you in the thick of things and helps you meet more people right away instead of hanging out on the sidelines. One way of introducing yourself is to offer your business card along with your name and a firm handshake. The real goal in this exchange is not to give out your card, however. You want to get a card in return. The card you get in reciprocation provides you with valuable information and contact info that allows you to follow up with that person in the future. Carry a pen with you, so you can write down notes on the back of each card you collect. This makes it easier for you to remember who everyone is later and lets you make your follow-ups more personal.
Another piece of networking advice for introducing yourself focuses on listening. You never want to spoil things by talking too much about yourself. Maneuver through the room, listen to the conversations, and then comment on something you just heard to set up your own introduction. This networking advice allows you to get some small talk in before you get to the introducing stage, making the introductions more casual and less awkward. One you are done telling your story or listening to one, just smile and extend your hand. Give a firm handshake, state your name, and make sure to remember the other person's name.
Networking advice doesn't end with an effective greeting. Your exit matters as much as your entrance. Before you leave, thank your host, and touch base with anyone else you had a conversation with that is still there. People remember the first and last things they experience, so you want to spend time with your contacts at the beginning and the end of the night. This makes a much stronger impression.
Never underestimate the effectiveness of networking. Many people find jobs through people they know socially, and positive personal relationships are essential to effective business relationships. Remember that conversations must not focus on yourself and your needs. Nurture your contacts by offering assistance to them. The most important piece of networking advice to remember is that a great greeting gets your foot in the door, but then you need to follow-through.
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