Networking Ė the Key to Lifetime Work
BY GLENNIS MCCLURE, REAP
CO-DIRECTOR & WOMENíS BUSINESS CENTER DIRECTOR
Networking has always been an important element of
REAP. Itís why we help to start and maintain our
associations and our new roundtable groups. This monthís
feature article and roundtable discussion topic are
centered on networking. Share this information with
others to help strengthen your group and your networking
opportunities! Ė Glennis
Networking is an invaluable tool anyone in the business
world can use. Effective networking is your best form of
marketing, and, better yet, itís extremely affordable.
Networking occurs when there is a planned event or
gathering with the primary goal of connecting with
The purpose of networking varies based on oneís own
agenda, yet the primary focus is to meet people and have
people meet you. In other words, you have the
opportunity to market yourself and your business in a
relaxed, social setting. This often proves to be a
comfortable situation for all involved.
Chamber Good Starting Point
Opportunities to network occur in virtually every
community on some scale. For a new owner of a small
business, the most productive starting point usually is
to contact a local chamber of commerce or other
organization suiting your business.
Most chambers and professional organizations charge a
considerable amount for membership dues. Make sure the
organization is right for you before you join. It is
acceptable to visit the group first as a guest. This
enables you to get to know the group, get the ďfeelĒ of
the people, and make sure it is right before you spend
Exercise that Membership
Some business owners decide to join several chambers or
organizations. Membership in an organization is only
effective if you use it. Regular attendance at the
meetings is extremely important for effective
As you attend the meetings, you are recognized by more
and more people, you get to know more and more people,
and this helps you reach your goal. People will know you
and your company and refer to you, and you will do the
same for them to reciprocate. Personal referrals and
ďword of mouthĒ advertising are invaluable and highly
Ten Networking Tips
To make the most of your networking meeting, here are a
few guidelines you should follow:
- Arrive early. If you are there before the mass of
the group, you are assured the maximum opportunity to
- Arrive with a goal in mind. Before the meeting,
set a goal for yourself for that day, and then achieve
it. Donít arrive at the meeting feeling lackadaisical
or inattentive. Take time to get yourself focused
before the meeting.
- Bring writing materials and plenty of business
cards and/or brochures.
- Carry a purse or briefcase to hold the materials
and business cards you accumulate.
- Shake hands when introduced or when you introduce
yourself. As you extend your hand, make direct eye
contact with the other person, hold your hand at a 90
degree angle, and use a firm grip. These all signal
confidence and interest in your new acquaintance.
- Donít huddle with co-workers or friends. Itís
easier to be approached by others if you donít appear
to be busy with idle conversation.
- Donít be afraid to approach people you donít know
and introduce yourself.
- Wear a name tag or business card.
- Donít hard sell yourself or your company.
Networking meetings are intended to be social and
semi-informal and relaxed.
- Do your best to remember names of individuals you
have met. Repeating the other personís name as you are
introduced is an effective way to associate a personís
name with that face.
Looking Good Too
Another important networking preparation is to make sure
your personal appearance is appropriate for the
gathering. Your appearance is the first thing people
Unfortunately, lasting impressions can be formed about
you or your company before you even open your mouth
based solely on your appearance. Because of this, you
need to pay attention to detail. Make an effort to:
- Have a good haircut.
- Wear appropriate clothes for the setting.
- Wear clothes that fit properly.
- Check the little things. Make sure your stockings
arenít snagged or your tie isnít stained, for example.
- Most important, be yourself. If you are
comfortable with your appearance, your confidence will
surely be a benefit.
Follow-up and Follow Through
After the meeting, follow up with the people you have
met in a timely manner. If someone was interested in
your company, donít wait two or three weeks to drop them
a line. They may have forgotten you by then.
Also, follow through on any promises you made. If you
told someone you would call them with some information,
make sure you do it. You must be credible and reliable
for your networking efforts to be truly fruitful.
Networking can be costly in fees, dues, luncheons, etc.,
but if done effectively, it can prove to be an
invaluable investment in your businessís success.