1. IDENTIFY OPPORTUNITIES – Every holiday event you attend is an opportunity to meet new people. People are more inviting during the holidays and willing to share information. The more events you attend the greater your potential for developing new contacts.
2. QUALITY vs. QUANTITY - Know what you are looking for. The key is to identify quality prospects, not see how many business cards you can collect. Your best contact may not become a client but could provide you valuable alliances that will significantly grow your business.
3. MINGLE – Do not congregate with old friends or hang out at the buffet. Your goal is to meet NEW contacts.
4. LISTEN – You will learn more about people by listening than talking. Listening will provide you the keys to identify contacts and gain valuable information that will determine how you choose to develop a potential business relationship.
5. ASK QUESTIONS – This is always a key factor in networking. Asking the right questions will generate the information you need. Areas that generate networking potential are questions about their business, what services they provide, the biggest challenges they are facing and the best question of all is what would be a good referral for them. People are always interested in others who can benefit them.
6. REVISE YOUR PERSONAL INTRODUCTION – When asked what you do you have about six seconds to capture their attention and interest. Don’t use titles but instead state what you do and how it benefits people. For instance, stating you help people understand personal finance in this difficult economy would be an introduction for a financial advisor. Develop your own introduction with this in mind.
7. CARRY YOUR BUSINESS CARDS – This does not mean you pass out your business cards to everyone you meet. In fact, that would be a mistake. Be discriminate, only give your business card to someone that asks for it or someone that has stated they have a specific need that either you or someone you know can help them with. Use the back of your business card to write a brief note that serves as a reminder to them when they look at the card later.
8. GET CONTACT NUMBERS – It is critical to get contact information. Tell the individual you would like to follow-up with them and ask them for a business card. If they don’t have a card with them, ask them for their phone number or email address and write it on the back of one of your business cards.
9. DEVELOP A CONTACT LIST – Don’t wait to record the list of contacts you made at an event. Record all contact information and notes concerning the contact as soon as possible. Entering the information into your personal data base within 24 hrs is best.
10. FOLLOW-UP – Your networking efforts won’t reap maximum rewards unless you follow through on your initial meeting.
Information: The International Referral Network