Marketing Monday: Nuts and bolts tips for networking

Last week I wrote about some of my strategies for making the most of conferences.

But once you’re done thinking big thoughts like “Which conferences are the best fit for me?” and “What message do I want to convey?” there’s practical matter of executing well.

A few pointers I’ve picked up over the years:

This is the business card my artist husband designed for me. I have a few tricks for keeping them separate from other people's cards.

This is the business card my artist husband designed for me. I have a few tricks for keeping them separate from other people’s cards.

1. Keep your business cards in one pocket and other people’s cards in a different pocket. Then you’ll never have to rummage through cards you’ve collected to find one of your own to give away.

If I’m wearing something that doesn’t have pockets, I do a variation of this — I keep my own cards in a metal business card holder and put others loose in a pocket of my purse.

2. Make a note on each business card you collect. If I’m at a conference for several days, by the time I’m done, I have no hope of remembering every interesting conversation I’ve had without a little help. So I might write something general like “Met at Mashable party. Plaid shirt, cool glasses.” or a specific action like “Send link to living room shows blog post.”

I try to note enough to send a more meaningful follow up than “nice meeting you at that event.” Because I figure the person receiving that plain vanilla email is just as likely to have no idea who I am.

3. There’s good networking to be done real time using the hashtag of a speaker or panel. I like to follow along to see who’s saying what on Twitter, as a supplement to a good session. I retweet a few choice tidbits to share value with my followers, and follow some people myself.

If we’re both at the same event, finding similar ideas interesting, I figure there’s value in seeing what else he or she might tweet later.

4. Wear an outfit that’s conducive to nametags. I don’t always succeed on this, but try to skip big scarves and long necklaces at nametag-type events. Whether it’s a stick-on or a lanyard, I try to keep my clothes out of the way.

5. Make sure you hear a person’s name so you can retain it. I learned in Dale Carnegie years ago that one reason many people struggle to remember names is that they never really caught it to start with. Instead, many of us are focused on preparing our own introduction so the other person’s name washes over us.

One easy thing is to repeat the person’s name like, “Nice to meet you, Greg, I’m Colleen.” If it’s an unusual name, I’ll repeat it and ask if I have it right.

What little tricks help make networking work better for you?

Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy. She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.

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Categories: career

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