One of the first things people are going to do when you are business networking is check out your social media profiles. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are providing a consistent image, current information and you at least look a bit like your LinkedIn photo!
To make sure your profiles are professional and are portraying the image you want, include all the following elements:
Never leave the generic, faceless shadow on your profile. People are much more likely to connect with you when there’s a face put to the name. Also, many people will ONLY connect with you if they can see your face. Cartoons are fine if you’re self-conscious, but people will only take you seriously when they look into your eyes.
Most social sites have a space for a brief “tag line” where you can state your title, business, or other statement that describes you in just a few words. Make sure this pithy sentence is geared for your target prospects. Using keywords will also help people find you.
Include more detailed information about your skills, background, experience, etc. in the appropriate places in your profile. This is your opportunity to explain that tag line and show off a bit, so make the most of it. In some sites, like LinkedIn, you can even add media to your profiles, such as videos and slideshare presentations.
Don’t forget to include information on how people can get in touch with you. Include your preferred contact methods, such as phone, email, website, Skype, address, etc. If you have both a professional and personal blog, you can include both so that people can learn more about you.
If you have contact preferences, state those to. No one wishes to get off on the wrong foot when making contact with you, so make sure you express how you like to be contacted.
If you’re using a network like LinkedIn, take advantage of their Recommendations and Endorsements features. Ask a few select customers and colleagues to write short recommendations for you. Give them a little guidance on what type of recommendation you need so that they have some ideas. It will make it easier for them to write it, and you’re more likely to get a recommendation that will help your networking goals.
Review all your major social media profiles on a regular basis to keep them up to date and consistent. This is especially important if you change jobs or start a new business. It’s also important to keep an up to date photo, so if yours is 10 years old, it’s time to take a new one!
Business Networking is an investment, not a collection of phone numbers.
Just one faux pas during your business networking can leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth that loses you dozens of potential connections. Relationships take work and nurturing, whether they’re personal or business. Make the time to take care of the little things and you’ll soon earn a reputation for professionalism and courtesy that people respect.
You’ll find when this happens, your connections will refer to you all the time, and they start the right kind of conversation, which is just what you’re looking for!
Never give someone the name and number of one of your contacts without asking that person first. Instead, you can say something like, “I know someone who might be able to help you. Let me ask her if it’s ok to give you her name and get back to you.”
If it’s okay with your contact, create a proper introduction, via email or LinkedIn message. This gives your contacts the opportunity to arrange a mutually beneficial time to have a chat. Remember to follow up with them both, to make sure it was both the correct referral and to gain feedback.
Don’t walk into a networking event looking like a slob, unless that’s the image you want to portray. If you’re not sure of the appropriate attire, dress a little bit nicer rather than more casually. Sure, there are plenty of people who say “come as you are”, and “be yourself” but they don’t mean it. Human beings are visual people, they expect neat and tidy dress.
If you said you’ll introduce someone to one of your contacts, make sure you follow-up with the name and number after checking with that person. If you promised to send someone information about another event, make a note to send it.
So many people make promises and never deliver, you’ll soon stand out if you follow up.
Speaking to someone on the phone is less time-consuming than an email, but it still requires an appointment. Send an email or message via social media first to request a call, and be open to them saying no.
Even if you haven’t made specific commitments to your new contacts, you need to make an effort to stay visible and develop those relationships. Connect on social media, comment on their blogs, send holiday cards (virtual or physical) and drop them a note from time to time on Linkedin.
As part of your follow-up, make sure you thank everyone who provided the slightest tip, name, advice, or other helpful piece of information. Tailor your thank-you based on the person and the help offered. You might send a private message on LinkedIn, a formal thank-you card, or even just a tweet. Expressing thanks shows what a thoughtful person you are, and you become memorable.
Use your common sense in all your business networking. If you wouldn’t behave that way amongst family, don’t do it when you’re networking!
What would you add to this business networking 101?
One of the benefits of networking with people face-to-face vs. online is that you can gauge their reactions and get a “read” on them. At the same time, they can do the same with you. You only have the one chance to make that all-important first impression; it’s already made before you even lean in and introduce yourself. If you’re an introvert, feel shy, or don’t like groups of people, business networking can seem like your own personal hell.
This article will share with you the 4 areas of body language and how to master them for effective networking, even if you’re petrified inside!
Here are four of the most important components of body language that you need to pay attention to when you’re networking for business:
If there is no other body language you focus on, it should be eye contact. The best networkers use their eyes to communicate the feeling that you are the person they are most interested in at that moment. Never let your eyes drift to other people in the room, as if you’re looking for someone better to talk to, or be constantly looking over someone’s shoulder to see if there’s someone you’d rather talk to instead.
Even if you are nervous, look at the person you are talking to. Not in a serial killer, or teenage infatuation can’t take your eyes off of them way but in a normal, I’m interested in what you say kind of way.
Practice having a conversation with a friend, preferably in a room full of people, and ask them for feedback afterward on what your eye contact felt like. Did they feel as if you were not fully engaged? Did they feel like you were “staring them down?” Feedback on eye contact is important, you don’t want to send the wrong message yet you don’t want to appear disinterested.
Did your mother ever tell you to stand up straight? The way you stand can communicate how open you are to being approached, your energy level, your professionalism, and even the way you were brought up.
Make sure you do stand up straight, but not as if you’re on parade. You want to appear open and friendly, not rigid and formal. If you slouch, you may look tired or unenthusiastic. If you’re tired, take a seat, and if your heels are killing you, slip them off under the table.
Find a happy medium where you stand up straight with your shoulders back, far enough away from the other person to allow personal space, and with a sense of energy and purpose.
Waving not drowning? How do you know? Gestures and where you put your hands when you’re not using them are both elements of body language that communicate different things. Waving your arms around while you talk may seem to portray excitement, but it can also be distracting for the other person who won’t know where to look.
Putting your hands in your back pockets may be more casual and comfortable, but it can also look unprofessional. Crossing your arms is also a big no-no in many circles since it communicates a resistance to new ideas.
You may be completely unaware of your common gestures, so ask a friend to pay attention to them during a practice conversation.
People will be looking at your face more than anywhere else, so be careful of your facial expressions. If you frown at what someone is saying, they will immediately assume you disagree or disapprove. Worse, someone may capture that on camera or see it from across the room.
Mona Lisa had it right. Keeping a slight smile on your face is a good habit to practice no matter what situation you’re in. It makes you look warm and friendly – like someone that others would like to meet – and if you are caught on film from across the room, the photo can’t be misinterpreted.
Now you’ve mastered your body language, book onto the next 1230 TWC meeting and see how effective it is.
PS If you find networking difficult, you will love the 1230 TWC meetings. These take place over lunch, are pressure free and filled with smart women like you