Steps for Successful Networking
Donna Cardillo, RN, BS | Verticalnet, Inc.
Another way to get started is to go to the food or refreshment table and comment on how good the food looks or something similar. Then you might say, “This is my first meeting, do they always serve food?” This light, superficial banter, known as “small talk,” serves as a warm-up phase between two people who haven’t met before. Most people need to establish a connection by commenting on the weather, the food, or the meeting room before divulging personal information. Once the ice is broken, focus on the other person and ask more about what she does or where she works. Most people love to talk about themselves and are thrilled when someone expresses interest in them.
Another tip: Look for someone who is standing alone rather than trying to break into a conversation in progress or walking up to a group. Start with one of your ice breakers—you might try “I always feel a little uncomfortable at these things, how about you?” After that, you can ask about their work or specialty. Show genuine interest, listen attentively, ask the other person to tell you more, and you’ll soon be the life of any party or meeting.
It’s in the cards
Besides these ice-breaking techniques, use business cards to get the most out of each networking opportunity. If you don’t already have them, have some made at Staples, Kinkos, or a local stationery store . Include your name, credentials, address, and phone number. Also include your fax number and e-mail address if applicable. Either your home or your business information is appropriate.
Keep the card simple and professional: A white card with black lettering is best. Carry your cards at all times. The real value and power of networking is in making contacts that you can call later for information, advice, and support.
Read my previous article “How Networking Can Work For You” for more information. Then get out and use your new-found networking skills. With a little practice and commitment, you’ll be networking your way to success.
Reprinted with permission from Nurses.com (www.nurses.com). Copyright by Verticalnet, Inc., Horsham, PA., 215-315-3247. All rights reserved.