- Explore organizations dedicated to business networking. Chambers of commerce, tenant associations and networking clubs offer opportunities for you to meet and greet.
- Look for partners. Specifically, look for other businesses that complement what you do and might be a good source of referrals. Align with non-competitors that call on the same prospects and share your business relationships.
- Don’t look at networking as a sales opportunity. Instead, look at it as a reconnaissance mission–a chance for you to learn something and enjoy the scenery. There is a proper time and place for sales calls.
- Make a habit of being patient, polite and friendly to people, whether or not you’re in an "orchestrated" setting. One day, I was snapped at by a frazzled airport ticket agent. Instead of getting angry and formulating a counterattack, I said, "You must be exhausted; so many people are flying this weekend." A woman behind me commented on my remark and asked if I was in the clergy. I laughed and told her what I did, and thus began an enjoyable business relationship.
- Don’t do anything to extremes. What constitutes anything? You name it: drinking alcohol, eating, talking, laughing or whispering.
- Timing is everything. If you’re working the room and getting results, stay as long as you can. If you’re in a dead zone, cut your losses, get out early, go home and get a good night’s sleep.
- When you meet with someone and it’s clicking, capitalize on that with a rapid follow-up. There were two ways to go: to the top of the pile or into the abyss of nameless faces that they met the night before.
Referrals, introductions and contacts that simply come by chance are like gifts. Be sure to thank anyone who helps you network. Your ability to be seen as a giver rather than a taker will spread the word that you are someone with whom people want to do business.