Text by Maggie Mistal
True networking isn't about agendas and air kisses. It's about connection. As we enter this highly social season of parties and get-togethers, here's how to work your interpersonal magic.
1. Think Before You Go
Clarify your goals before attending a networking event. What's standing in the way of those goals, and how can someone help?
2. Use Cards Wisely
Don't toss yours around like a poker dealer. Share it at the end of a conversation. When you receive a card, really look at it (and later, make a note on it of where you met and what you discussed). You want to stay in touch with people, not collect them.
3. Skip The Mass E-Mail
I recently got a message from a contact on LinkedIn asking everyone in his circle to forward any opportunities in his areas of expertise. That's like yelling "Call 911!" into a crowd -- there's no accountability. Make your requests specific and personal. (And don't forget to ask about that person before launching into what you need.)
4. Name-Drop with Care
Have someone in common and want to mention it? Proceed with caution. Be honest from the get-go. Don't overstate a relationship with someone and risk jeopardizing social capital later (as when you claim to be tight with a person you know only peripherally). Even better, ask the friend or acquaintance for an introduction, so that you make the right impression from the start.
5. Follow Through
One of the best networkers I know always does what she says she's going to. If she mentions an article of interest, she e-mails it later that day. If she knows someone who can be of help, she makes a personal introduction within a week. It sets her apart as a valued contact.
(Maggie Mistal is a career coach and the host of "Making a Living with Maggie" on Sirius/XM Radio. Read her blog at Whole Living Daily.)
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