Start the year rightWritten by Debby Peters | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Issue: As one year ends and another fresh start is on the horizon, many people resolve to attend more networking events in the New Year. What most don’t understand is how to make the best use of the time, so the return on the investment is optimized.
A Solution: If asked, ”What is the most important tool to take with you to a networking event?” most people would guess business cards or maybe even small brochures. What is being forgotten is the reason for attending such occasions. It is impossible and also rather tactless to try to sell during these times. Instead, it makes good sense to schedule future appointments with new prospects or referral sources. The most important tool to have in hand is an appointment book or electronic calendar. Having such a device means you won’t have to play telephone tag with that new person before you ever meet with them.
The Next Step: It takes a bit of practice and maybe even a few false starts to get into the habit of saying, ”Hey, let’s get together next week to get to know each other better.” In the past, it is likely that good communication has occurred and during this time you’ve gotten a good feeling about someone. The next and last step has been that you’ve asked for their business card. You are going to have to push yourself to suggest an appointment.
It is easier to end the conversation and drift away having accomplished a good conversation, but that’s about all. This will mean developing a new habit, and it will take a few attempts to feel comfortable performing this task.
Take Away: What you will find is more quality appointments on your calendar. You will also quickly know if someone is not interested in meeting with you, because they will probably not book that initial appointment. While this can be disappointing, it is much less so than having to play months of telephone tag to the person’s voice mail without them ever returning the call. You might also find that some other people do not carry their calendar with them. You can start a trend and you can also deliver a message that you have all the tools you need to be a top level professional. (If you carry a paper calendar, be sure you’ve purchased or ordered the 2006 version.)
Debby Peters is owner and director of training of Certified Networker Program of Ohio.