Here are 5 tips on how to identify the people you want to connect with and making lasting impressions on the people you meet. Let’s build the skills we need to become better networking partners.

Be prepared:

Review attendee list prior to the event. Identify 2-3 good solid contacts you’d like to connect with. This is one of the reasons it is important to pre-register whenever possible, get your name out there! Ask the event coordinator to identify good connections for you; introduce yourself and explain who would be a good referral and ask who you should connect with. Remember that the coordinator should always be on the top of your list, they make great referral partners.

Have plenty of business cards and pockets to keep them in. It is said that a business card holder is more professional when offering a card, but be sure to have a place to put the cards you collect. Have your calendar ready and set an appointment with your new connection before leaving the event. Have 2-3 dates identified beforehand to give them choices. Be prepared before every event and your success will increase dramatically.

Time is limited!!

Use your time wisely. Seek out the people you want to connect with, get to know them a little bit, and then express your interest in meeting with them and learning more about them and what they do. Ask if you can set an appointment with them right then (make sure your phone calendar is up to date, it is the easiest way to set an appt.) or before you leave and then excuse yourself to meet a few more people you want to connect with. Keep moving and don’t be afraid to withdraw politely to meet other people after all that is why everyone is there.

Jump or hover:

What kind of networker are you? If you walk into an active networking event do you jump right into a group and join the conversation or do you hover around the edges of a group and wait for an invitation to join? Some people are confident and have no problem jumping right in and joining a conversation while others look around for a familiar face or wait for someone to invite them in. Make a point to include these folks, they may be new to the group or to networking in general and may need a friendly welcome to help build their confidence.

Be memorable:

When you connect with the people you are seeking out ask them lots of questions. “The person who listens the most is remembered the most.” Really get to know them. It’s okay to take notes in fact it shows them you are serious about connecting, so bring a notepad and jot down some memory joggers for follow-up conversations. When they ask a question be brief with your answer and bring it back to them with another question.

Making strong connections in a crowd:

Be confident. Have a firm handshake. Make eye contact. Smile. Smell good and dress professionally. Check the mirror before you enter the room. Sometimes what you say without opening your mouth gets you noticed. Ask questions and really listen, when it seems like they are done talking pause before asking another question in case they think of something else they’d like to tell or ask you. Speak up, don’t yell but make a point to be heard. This projects confidence and is appreciated by your listeners. Be memorable for the right reasons!!

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