Having been to many networking events I have found that a lot of people talk about networking but very few do it well.

Many people fear going to an event and meeting total strangers. If they go, they introduce themselves and hand out their business cards and collect cards from others. Most of these cards are lost or tossed, by both parties!

What they do not understand is that this is NOT networking, these are introductions. They are no more valuable than that person you met for the first time at the company Christmas party.

If this is what you do I am sorry but you are a ‘Networking Numskull’.

So, what to do? Take the first, real networking step and start contacting those people who gave you their business cards. You know, the ones you don’t remember! Set up a coffee or lunch meeting and start to get to know one another, the first step in networking.

Once you get to know this person you can make a judgement if you should get to know them better. If you decide it would be mutually beneficial to go forward, then start building a relationship. Relationships are what make networking a valuable and rewarding process.

We do business with those we have relationships with!

And don’t forget a couple of other simple rules when networking. First, always ask how you might be able to help the other person. If you give, then you will receive. And, surprise, it is not as hard or time consuming as you may think.

Second, create interest in yourself when you first meet someone. How? Start by having a very short statement or ‘hook’ phrase that creates interest for the listener. You know, the answer to the question ‘what do you do’?

For example, a Vice President of Engineering could just say “I am a Vice President of Engineering”. This is possibly impressive to some but amongst a group of executives, ho-hum, not at all interesting. But a friend of mine who is a VP Engineering says, “I am a de-engineering expert”. Instantly he gets the question “what is that”? Now a conversation ensues and the other party will more likely remember this person over most they have met.

Since most people can not come up with a ‘hook’ phrase, try creating a ‘value’ phrase. Determine what it is you really do, what value do you bring to the table.

Instead of that standard ‘title’ statement, use a statement about the value you bring to an organization or group. For example, “I establish engineering processes that are more efficient, easier to implement, and bring more profit to an organization”.

Isn’t that better? Doesn’t this make you want to know more about this person or how they do what they stated? Of course it does!

Even if you think you never need or want to meet an engineering executive, you would still remember this person over most you meet.

And, never, ever discount where a valuable relationship will lead you! This same person probably knows the CEO of their company as well as other influential people that may assist YOU!

So, get past introductions and start building relationships. Try to help the other person, and, don’t forget to make an impression that others will remember!

Someone said, “It is not who you know, but who remembers YOU”!

Steve Burgess is a #1 Best Selling author, noted speaker, small business consultant, executive coach, trainer, and former COO of several highly successful companies. He can be reached at steveburgess@ichoose2be.com or visit his website www.ichoose2be.com

Author's Bio: 

Stephen A. Burgess is the Co-Founder of Eureka ! Opportunity Mine, an organization providing entrepreneurs a wide range of business training, coaching, products and support for a lifetime. He is also Co-Founder of OnLineBizHQ.org, dedicated to providing real online and home-based business opportunities to current and future entrepreneurs. Steve is a noted speaker and a #1 Best Selling author. He is also a Principal of Global Marketing Resources, a firm providing online and offline marketing strategy, programs and execution to businesses of all sizes.

Steve’s advice is highly sought after by entrepreneurs, business owners and companies of all sizes. He works together with clients to maximize their growth and profits! Discover more at www.theBusinessProphet.com and www.GlobalMarketingResources.com

All materials are copyright © 2005 Corporate Toolbelt & Stephen A. Burgess. All rights reserved.