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Five basics for successful business networking
Summer is officially over, time to for the kids to go back to school and for the rest of us to get back to business. That means if you’ve slacked off over the summer, it’s time to get back to networking.
Many industry groups put meetings on hold during the summer months because so many people are on vacation. But in September activities are back full force. Often the best speakers are booked to kick-off the season.
But before you head out to your next networking event make sure that you have these five networking essentials.
Even in the digital age, it’s important to have business cards. You need to have something professional looking to give people at networking events.
If you’re unemployed have cards made with your name, phone number and email address. If you work in a specific industry include a description like PR Specialist or Sales Professional. These can be inexpensively produced at any of the business supply stores or even printed from your home computer.
Appropriate Email Address
Make sure you use a personal email address for networking. Even if you have a job today, there’s no guarantee you’ll have it tomorrow so it’s not a good idea to use your business email for networking.
That said, be careful about the email address you use. You don’t want an email address that says too much about you – like foodie327@ or talk2susie@ – unless it advertises what you do for a living like writer@.
Opt for something that can be identified with you without being too personal. Use this email address for social media like LinkedIn so people will be able to reach you without contacting you at the office.
Social Media Presence
After an initial meeting, most people will try to check you out on social media. At the very least, it’s essential to be on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a profile create one. If you have one make sure that it includes your most recent accomplishments.
While you’re on LinkedIn don’t ignore the groups. College alumni and industry groups are a great place to find jobs and make connections. Chances are if you respond to a job posted on a group you belong to you’ll have a better chance than applying to the same position on a job board.
Be careful of what you post on other social media – like Twitter and Facebook – as well. A potential employer or business contact will not be impressed by a picture of you posing in your bikini even if some of your tweets are business related.
Always have an updated resume on your home computer. Even if you’re not looking today, you may be tomorrow. Besides, it never hurts to be prepared for the next great opportunity.
If you meet someone at an event who asks for your resume don’t make them wait a week until you update it.
The Right Attitude
Last on this list, but truly the most important is your attitude. Are you looking for someone who can help you? Try looking for someone you can help instead.
People are wary of strangers looking for favors. You’ll get the best value from networking if you focus on building long-term relationships not handing out business cards to everyone you meet.
Building a network is not something that can be done overnight. Running from event to event will not magically help you find a job or increase your business. The secret to successful networking is to build it into every part of your life