The September 2017 theme at WBN is “Networking-dare to get out there.” It got me thinking about all the networking I’ve done over the years, and how much I’ve learned since my first breakfast years and years ago.

I’d like to share these with you. Hopefully you have your own list and you’re making networking work for your business.

1. Networking works for my business.
I need to keep doing it. Consistently. I can’t “take a break” for a few months. That’s why I continue to renew my membership, attend events, and work actively to get to know the members.

2. Neworking is not a opportunity to sell or pitch.
It’s simply an opportunity to get to meet people and make connections that can later be explored.

3. Networking events are not an opportunity to throw business cards around like confetti.
Not everyone will want to exchange cards and I shouldn’t expect people to take mine willingly and happily. Not everyone will be interested in my product or service.

4. Follow up is key.
Unless I follow up with the contacts I’ve made I can’t expect to have any success.

5. Networking is work and it takes a plan.
Yes it’s nice to get together and chat socially, but networking is primarily a marketing tool. I have to go prepared, have a coherent sales pitch that works. And, introducing myself with my first and last name is a must do…after all, I’m not Madonna!

6. I need to listen.
I’ve learned that when I’m out networking I need to LISTEN twice as much as I talk. That way I’ll be able to identify need/interest or possible collaboration. It also shows people that my mom taught me some manners.

7. I have to be myself.
People respond to authenticity. Putting on a super professional uptight “face” doesn’t work because that’s not what I am. It’s too much work. I have to be me while remaining friendly and open and able to exercise my excellent wit.

8. Being a wallflower at a networking event is not a good strategy.
Even if I don’t know a single soul, it’s my job to put on a smile, walk up to a stranger and introduce myself. They may not come looking for me hiding near the curtains.

I hope your networking events have paid off, and I hope that WBN has given you opportunities and tools to become a great networker. If you’d like to talk about networking or simply want to get to know each other — get in touch and let’s have coffee.