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Sep 29, 201412:49 PMThe Gray Area

with Donna Gray

Power networking a key part of business prospecting

(page 1 of 2)

This coming Thursday at 8 a.m., I will have the pleasure of presenting a mini-seminar on power networking at Madison Nonprofit Day at Monona Terrace. Many of you already know how much I enjoy meeting and connecting people. I think it’s part of my life’s mission because connecting people is so second nature to me.

I have found, and experts might agree, that power networking is an important part of business prospecting, especially now, with social media growing into an important business networking tool. While this mode of connecting is gaining in importance, good old-fashioned face-to-face meetings are still number one when it comes to sealing deals and creating ongoing business relationships.

Social media connections may be easier for folks who worry about what to say next and who are deathly afraid of forgetting names and faces, but with a few good networking skills in one’s pocket, one can enjoy any kind of networking event: public, private, big, and small. The hardest part, according to some of my networking-apprehensive friends, is thinking of things to talk about. Here are a few suggestions to get any networking connection off to an easier start:

  • When you attend a networking event with another person, do not hang out with that person throughout the event. Mix and mingle. The purpose of going to such an event is to actually meet and add new people to your circle of contacts.
  • Ask questions to encourage the other person to talk about his or her life and business. Questions can be as simple as “What do you love most about what you do?” “What brought you to this area?” “Was this what you wanted to do when you grew up?” (This last question sometimes brings up interesting background stories.)
  • Practice active listening. Sometimes it can be difficult to stop oneself from thinking ahead to what one might say next. Try to keep this habit at bay and really concentrate on what the other person is saying.
  • Only exchange cards when it might be of mutual benefit. One meets many new people at power networking events. You should keep the information of those you intend to follow up with for a possible business relationship.
  • Follow up. There is no point in attending networking events if you are not going to follow up with new connections. Whether in person or through social media, the follow-up is what builds the relationship.

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