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Ever heard of the old adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?”
How do you meet people in your profession?
Well, one method is to meet people at industry seminars and conferences.
Imagine being in a conference ballroom filled with people. How do you start a conversation with a total stranger?
Before you even begin, think of what you can offer. That’s what networking is all about. Give first and goodness will come back to you.
For example, at a networking session in 1998, I met a woman named Michelle who was looking for a training manager’s job. I put her in contact with a friend of mine who hired her. Years later, Michelle let me know of resources that helped my business. She wanted to help me because I had assisted her first. People want to return kindness.
Here are 5 techniques to make it easier and more comfortable to network:
1) Whom do I approach first?
At one of my recent presentations skills seminars, I watched attendees attempt to network during the lunch break. But, they hesitated because they didn’t know who to approach first.
Here’s the secret: approach groups containing three people.
While two of them are chatting to each other, the third person will usually start talking to you (and probably feel relieved since they were the “odd person out” in the group of three.)
2) How to respond when people ask, “What do you do?”
When someone asks you this question, use this simple formula:
“Have you ever_____? Well, I ______?”
For example, when people ask me what I do, I respond, “Have you ever sat through a boring business presentation? Well, I specialize in training business people on how to give more dynamic presentations that motivate people to action.”
Stating the problem first i.e. “boring business presentations” shows you understand the problem. Stating a solution how you can fix the problem.
3) How to handle business cards
Here’s a tip: use two suit pockets or two compartments in your purse. Have your own cards in one pocket and use the other pocket to store cards you’ve received from other people.
The benefit is you’ll never get confused and accidentally give out someone else’s card by mistake.
4) How to keep track of all the people you meet
Bring a pen. After meeting someone, make a note on the back of his or her card. In your note, write down any key points they’ve made or any way you can be of assistance to them.
If you’ve committed to help someone with information, write it down on the card so you can follow up later.
5) Offer to help
Ask them about their biggest need or challenge. Then think of a resource to help them. It may not be something you do. But you may know someone who can help them with their challenge.
Again, networking is about mutually beneficial relationships. The more people you help, the more people will want to help you.
Use these five proven techniques to help your career through effective networking at your next business mixer, seminar or conference.
Copyright © 2007 Reflective Keynotes Inc., Toronto, Canada
Mike Aoki is the President of Reflective Keynotes Inc. (www.reflectivekeynotes.com ), a Toronto-based seminar company. Mike has trained clients to sell more effectively, improve their call centre performance and coach their employees to success.
Clients such as Telus Mobility, the Canadian Cancer Society and Rogers Wireless trust Mike to train their staff. Mike has also been the keynote speaker for organizations like the Business Development Bank of Canada and the Canadian Institute of Management.

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