Today I'm here at the Westin resort on Hilton Head Island for the Hilton Head, Bluffton Chamber of Commerce business Expo. Let's get right to the point and talk about why you need to network and the importance of good manners to successful networking. One, because life and business is a contact sport, do you need to interact with other people if you want to be successful in business, too, because in business, it's not what you know. It's who you know. And more importantly, it's not who you know, but who knows you. Third, because it leads to a lifetime of learning.
When we meet and engage other people in conversations we learn from them. We learn things that will help us personally and professionally and it can lead to a lifetime of new experiences and new context and a lifetime of learning. In a nutshell, networking position you as a serious business person. It can help you to establish business connections. It can provide you with new and additional resources. It can increase your client base and your customer base.
It can provide you with new information. It can increase business opportunities. It can enhance career opportunities, and networking is fun. It's good to connect and to interact with other people. In this session, I'm going to focus on the etiquette of networking. As old fashioned as it may sound, good manners and common courtesy are essential aspects of the networking process.
Sadly, good manners are usually most noticed by their absence. There are three P's of networking, preparation, practice, and paying attention. Let's start with the preparation First of all, find out about the event. find out who's going to be there, find out why it's being held, who is sponsoring the event? Who do you need to talk to at the event? And finally, what should you wear to the event?
Number two is decide what you want to get out of the event. What is the benefit? In some cases, if you think about it, if you look at the event, and and study who's going to be there and find out what the venue actually is, this may not be a good use of your time. So select your event carefully. Then think about what it is you're going to wear to the event. This is important.
It's important because the people that you're going to interact with need to feel comfortable with you. You need to be dressed appropriately. If the event is a casual event, at the end of the workday, you need to take a change of clothes to the office or be prepared to take off your jacket, your tie or whatever to make yourself a little more comfortable and fit in with a casual environment. If it's a dressy event, and you typically dressed casually for work, then take something that you can add to what you're wearing to dress yourself up for the event. That way you'll fit in and your look like you knew where you were going. Next, check your business cards.
Don't leave your office without them. Make sure that you have plenty of them. Make sure they're in good condition and make sure you know where they are. Prepare yourself introduction, think about how you will introduce yourself at the event think of an introduction that is appropriate to the particular activity and the people that you want to meet, you're not going to introduce yourself the same way every time at every event. For instance, at the business Expo, you want to introduce yourself in a way that tells people who you are and what business you're in. I, for example, would introduce myself by saying, Hello, I'm Lydia Ramsay, I own a business called manners that sell and I do presentations on business etiquette for organizations and for individuals.
Next, plan your conversation, decide ahead of time what you're going to talk about, for example, choose three topics that you can talk about with anybody that you meet, because there are people that you will meet from time to time that you absolutely can't think of anything to say to these people. If you haven't planned it ahead of time, you're dead in the water. You're stuck right there staring at someone unable to open your mouth. So think of those three topics. For example. You might talk about the usual weather decide what you're going to say about the weather today.
You just arrived at the business Expo, you know if it's raining outside or if the sun is shining, you might talk about a local news event, you might talk about a national news event. Certainly you want to talk about topics that are safe topics that are comfortable, and stay away from the ones you notice. Stay away from, like the politics and religion. And prepare that all important handshake and practice your handshake before you go. Everybody will tell you that the good handshake is a firm handshake. But not everybody gives a good firm handshake.
So make sure that yours is a good, firm, professional handshake. And I'm going to tell you how to do that. What you want to do is you want to put your hand out with your fingers together, your thumb out slightly to the side, and you're trying to then make contact web to web with the other person's hand. All right, once you've made that contact web to web With the other person's hand, that's not the end of the firm handshake. You haven't given a firm handshake yet, you're just in the right position. At this point, in order to make it firm.
You want to close your thumb over the back of the other person's hand and give that slight squeeze with your fingertips. Now, it's not a hard squeeze that bone crushing handshakes that makes people cry or brings them to their knees. We're not trying to hurt people in the business environment. Make sure it's firm but not overly firm. And if you don't have that little slight squeeze and you don't close your thumb over the back of the other person's hand, what you've ended up doing is giving that lamp did fish kind of a handshake that nobody likes. One other thing to think about before you get to the event, are your exit lines.
Think about what you're going to say when you find yourself stuck in conversation with someone. Not necessarily someone that you don't want to talk to, but someone that you just need to move away from. Think about What you're going to do to exit the conversation so that you can successfully work the room and talk to as many people as possible. Now, let's talk about the event itself. The first thing to think about there is your arrival time. Arrive early, five to 10 minutes ahead of time, so that you're able to get into the room, you're able to see who's there.
You are able to position yourself so that you can greet other people coming in. You don't want to arrive at The event is well underway because then you're going to have a difficult time trying to get into conversation with other people who have been there for a while. Step inside the room several feet slightly at an angle so that you're not in the doorway and so that you can see who's already there. And you can check the setup of the room. You might consider using the buddy system. And when I talk about the buddy system, I'm suggesting that you go with a friend but I'm not suggesting that you stick with your friend for the entire event.
Otherwise, you might as well have gone out to lunch or dinner with your friend. But go with a friend work out a system with that friend so that you can introduce each other to people that possibly you don't know or your buddy doesn't know. You can also work out a system with your buddy if you get stuck with someone have sick notes, arrange that say I'm here with the town board help come rescue me. And then when you need a break from talking with strangers or talking with people that you're not so comfortable with, go find your buddy, relax for a few minutes, have a little conversation and then get back to your networking. Now let's talk about starting those conversations and finding those approachable people who are the approachable people at these events. approachable, people fall into two categories.
They are those people who are standing alone, and they are the people who are standing in groups of three or more. You never want to approach two people standing having a conversation because in that case, you're liable to interrupt those two people. So find your approachable people. And then think about how you're going to start that conversation and get the other person to talk. In order to get a conversation started. You want to use open ended questions you want to use those questions that start with why?
Start with how or statements that say, tell me about Try to avoid the closed ended questions that say when or where, or what? Because when you do that the person is likely to give you just a one word answer. And you're going to have to go back again and find another question that you can ask. So use open ended questions, avoid the closed ended ones. Now that you've got the conversation going, you want to keep the conversation going. So you need to exhibit good listening skills to encourage the other person to talk.
Good listening skills are things like making eye contact, smiling at the person, nodding your head, maybe leaning in just a bit towards the other person. The other thing that you might do is repeat what the person has said to you so that other person knows you're interested and knows that you're listening. Now, while I'm suggesting that you get the other person to do most of them Talking because you want to learn about this person, and you want to learn why this person is a good connection for you, and develop that relationship. You want the person to like you and people really will like you if you get them to talk about themselves. But be sure as you're asking those questions, trying to keep the conversation going, that you don't sound like the interrogator. You don't want to fire one question after the other at this person.
Make some comments. When the other person has finished speaking, make a comment. And then ask your next question. Keep in mind, the approachable people, those people who are standing alone, there just may be a reason why that person is standing alone and no one else is talking to him. So be prepared. Have your exit strategy ready so that you don't get stuck with a town pour.
Have that strategy ready. That's the strategy for exiting a conversation. Whether you're talking to someone whom you're enjoying, or whether you're talking to someone that you would rather move away from figure out ahead of time, how you're going to excuse yourself, From a conversation. Now the first thing to keep in mind is that you don't want to exit the conversation just as the other person has stopped speaking, when the other person stops speaking, you make a comment. And then you move on. Now plan those comments ahead of time plan to say something to people like, well, it's really been very nice talking with you today.
But I don't want to monopolize your time. I know you're here to see other people. So I hope we'll see each other again, thank you very much, and then move on. know ahead of time, what you're going to say to people or how are you going to handle the situation, you might use that strategy of excusing yourself from the conversation, or you might decide at that point, you're hungry or you're thirsty. So invite the person that you're speaking with, to walk over to the bar with you or over to the refreshment table. And once you get over to the refreshment table, then you can sort of part ways and move into conversation with someone else.
Another technique for exiting conversation is to introduce the person that you're speaking with to someone else. Once the two of them are in conversation, then you can move away. Just be sure that you move about a quarter of a way around the room. So that indeed it doesn't look as if you were just simply trying to get away from the person. Remember that you're at a networking event to meet as many people as possible or certainly to meet all the people that are on your pre prepared list. Therefore, this strategy of exiting a conversation is to benefit you, so that you can make the most of that event even when you're enjoying conversation and you want to spend more time with that person.
Remember the purpose of the event and remember your reason for being there. at almost every networking event, name tags are available. make the best use of your name tag, don't just put your name in the name of your company, try to think of something that's going to interest other people and get a conversation started. For instance, if you're in the dry cleaning business, you could write your name on your name tag and underneath that you write dirty clothes. And then everyone's going to want to know what about dirty clothes. That's your opportunity to tell them about yourself and about your business.
Make sure your name tag is easy to read, and that you place it on your right shoulder. The reason for that is that's where the other person's eye is going to go. When you extend your hand to shake hands with the other person, name tags go on the right shoulder. So what are you going to do if you run into someone whom you know you're supposed to know? You cannot for the life of you think of this person's name. And he is wearing a name tag.
The simplest and the best thing to do is to introduce yourself. That's the cue for the other person. To say who he is and return. And if that doesn't happen. You make sure you say at that point, please forgive me, but I have forgotten your name. Or please help me and remind me of your name.
It's also very good if you can recall something about that person. And you can say to the other person, I know that we met at that luncheon last week, or I know we were in the session together, but I have forgotten your name. People are very forgiving, because there's no one that has never forgotten a name. Take advantage of these networking opportunities to exchange business cards with as many people as possible. Be sure when you go to the event, that you have plenty of business cards with you. Check your business cards, make sure you have enough for everybody.
There's nothing that's more unprofessional and having someone ask you for a card and you say to them, Oh, I'm sorry. I don't think I have any wishes. Or I just gave up my last business card. Make sure you have enough to go around for the evening. Also, make sure you know where they are. You don't want to have to fumble around through all your pockets looking in your wallet or digging through your handbag in order to come up with a business card.
Put your business cards in your pocket before you go into an event, put them in your jacket pocket. And then all you need to do is just reach in the pocket where you know you put those business cards, pull out the business card and hand it to the other person. Make sure you have a system for exchanging business cards for giving and receiving the cards. If you keep your business cards in your right hand pocket, then put the business cards that you collect from other people in your left hand pocket. Nothing is more embarrassing than reaching into your pocket and pulling out someone else's business card to hand to the person. So make sure you're giving out your cards and not someone else's.
When you hand your business card to someone. Be sure you hand to that person, so that he can read it immediately without having to turn it around. And when you receive another person's card, look at it right away, make some sort of comment about it that indicates that you think this is important information. And that indicates that you're interested in knowing more about the person. Unless the other person asked for several of your business cards, be discriminating, only give one at a time. Occasionally, somebody will say, may I have several of those to take back to my office in that case, give them several.
But unless they ask, give only one at a time, if you give out five or six or a dozen people think they're not very important and not very valuable items of information. Wait until other people ask before you give them your business card. Now, you want other people to have your cards. So if in fact they are not suggesting that you give them one, the easiest thing to do is to simply say do you have a business card May I have your card? In that case, the other person will most likely reply with the same question. May I have your card, then you have the opportunity for the exchange.
In conclusion, remember those three P's of networking. Remember to prepare for the event. Practice what you're going to say and practice what you're going to do. Then finally remember to pay attention to the details. Be nice to everyone. You never know who you're speaking with.
Are you today? I'm fine. Thank you. How are you? Great. It's great to see you.