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May 11, 2009

Ten Rules of Networking

Networking events are part and parcel of a business person's life.  Next time you find yourself at a networking event, keep in mind these Ten Rules, and the people you meet will thank me:
1.  “Network” isn’t something you do, it is something you build.

2.  Meeting someone for five minutes at a networking event does not entitle you to become their “friend” on Facebook. Ever!  Feel free to send them a LinkedIn invite, though.

3.  It takes more time to recover from a weak handshake than it does to learn to give a firm one.

4.  Your life story is far more interesting to you than to someone you've just met -- and you've already heard it before.

5.  Stories that start with, “This one time, I almost ….” are boring as hell.  Learn to embrace experiences instead of avoiding them.

6.  Never enter a conversation at networking event with more than half a drink in your hand. Needing a refill is great excuse to leave.

7.  Asking someone "What do you do?" w/in a minute of meeting suggests your interest in them depends on their answer.

8.  When you meet someone for the first time, make certain they don't hear you complain. About anything.

9.  The most underrated skill to possess at networking events is ability to end conversations, not start them.

10.  Never "network" to meet people. Network to help people.
You can read the rest of my 10 Rules Posts here.  I'll see you at the next networking event!


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Mathew, as usual, you're right on target. The problem many people have with networking is that they don't know what to say. I've always advised that you don't say much -- you ask questions. For example, any prospective client you meet today is going to respond to a question like, "How is the current economic situation affecting your business?" And if you listen carefully, you'll here an opportunity to suggest, "Have you tried...?" Listen carefully, and you'll hear a problem, to which you can ask, "If you (not could solve that problem, how would it help you?" And listen again, until it reaches a point wher you can say,"Why don't we have lunch next week and talk about it? I may be able to help." And that's successful networking. It works like a charm.


Thanks for the tips. Ending the conversation is key, but maintaing eye contact and focus are paramount to getting meaningful information and not just a business card. Active listening could or should be # 10A...Thanks!

I disagree on #6. If someone is unhelpful, greedy, insufferable, uninteresting, or you just don't want to talk to them, learn two things: the skills to tactfully tell the person "We're done here" and the courage to say it.

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