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52 Nonstop Networking Tips
Andrea Nierenberg

52 Nonstop Networking Tips by a Master Networker

I heard Andrea speak at Women in the Know, a Women's Jewelry Association conference, and I thought she had some really terrific tips. I believe in the power of networking and I have seen designers who are good at it, go far, and those who aren't, find it a hindrance to their career success. So here are her tips with my annotated remarks specifically for design'preneurs. Good luck!

~ Cindy

1. Give yourself permission to network. Changing your attitude to a positive on is the first step to networking success. I think you can train yourself to be an extrovert if you're not naturally that way. Friendly people get things going faster than shy people.

2. Make a list of 'opening lines" to use when meeting someone new. Use open-ended questions that require more than a one-word answer, or at least follow up with an open-ended question. A great way to "train" your extroverted self!

3. Develop a 30-second infomercial about yourself. Practice it until it becomes spontaneous and natural. You should be able to sum up your work in a sentence -- labeling your work may be limiting as an artist but it's imperative as a marketer. And you must think as a marketer to be able to afford to be an artist.

4. Do your research before attending an event. Learn the basics about the organization and the people likely to be at the event. Know who might be in the business and who might be a potential customer.

5. Have a list of "get to know you" questions." These go deeper than "opening line" questions; they help you to get know the interests of the person you have just met. Make sure they're natural, though -- there's nothing worse than being asked a question that you know the personal is mechanically asking and not genuinely interested in knowing the answer.

6. Keep a journal of small talk topics. These are about current events, industry topics, books and movies, community topics, and the like. While this is a great idea, I'm thinking very few can do this! I think designers can do this best with canned questions like "What kind of jewelry do you like best" or "Do you have a favorite designer or style."

7. Set a goal for every event or meeting you attend. A good goal is to meet two new people, make a connection, and send a follow up note, call, or e-mail.

8. Smile when meeting people, entering a room, or talking on the phone. A smile is the first step in building rapport. And it definitely changes the tone of your voice and the friendliness of your face.

9. Look the other person in the eye. Eye contact says you are focused on the conversation and interested in what the other person is saying.

10. Listen with care. Be aware of what the other person is saying instead of thinking about what you will say next. You will remember much more about the person and the conversation. Even repeat a part of what they just said if you don't have something next to say. It takes the pressure off thinking of a clever retort.

11. Learn to remember names. This skill will set you apart from many. Listen carefully when the name is said, repeat it frequently in conversation, and create a mind picture that will help you associate the person with the name. This is an amazing skill and something folks really notice since it's so rare.

12. Give compliments. Make a goal to look for positive attributes and give five compliments a day.

13. Make a list of the key people in your industry or profession that you would like to meet. Determine what organizations, places and people they know that you could find to get to meet them. We're building a VIP Image Gallery to help you learn some of these folks.

14. Re-connect with four people a week. This week call a client or prospect you have not been in touch with for a while, a former business colleague, a former friend, and a current friend you haven't spoken with for a while. I LOVE this idea -- do you know how many times customers do not call in a reorder but will do so when you call to say hello?

15. Join a networking group such as BNI, or Leads Club and go to the meetings. Even if you don't get any referrals, it is a good way to practice your networking techniques like your 30-second infomercial. I'd suggest joining an industry group like Women's Jewelry Association or GIA Alumni network. If you have a retail outlet (or do studio tours) then joining a local group like the Junior League, Rotary Club or local women's group could be great for foot traffic and local publicity.

16. Research and join an industry or professional group. Go to two meetings, meet two people, and set up two follow-up meetings before you make your decision to join. We list them all here on our site.

17. Join a service group, such as a Chamber of Commerce, or a fund-raising organization. Follow you interests in this matter. Join for the sake of giving, not getting. Again, local work gets you local attention.

18. Follow your interest and take a class, join a health club, take cruise. Remember, you need like-minded people in your network. Hard to imagine a design'preneur has time for this but hey, you never know!

19. Volunteer, write an article, or join a committee in your organization. Becoming known helps you meet people and develop relationships faster and more profitably than just attending meetings. Lots of designers get exposure with contributions to a Women's Jewelry Association event, a column in a craft/jewelry/small business magazine or blog, networking at events during trade shows, etc.

20. Send three hand-written notes a day. Send these to people in your network to say thank you, congratulations, send an article of interest, extend an invitation, or just to keep in touch. Use 'found time" during the day and make these short and simple. Carry note cards and stamps with you. This is huge -- I've heard other business people give this advice and I'm always impressed. It's a goal of mine that I rarely meet but it keeps me thinking of doing it! When I read about someone I know in a trade magazine or online at jckonline.com or nationaljeweler.com I usually send a congratulations note. It's a great thing to do and takes just a few minutes each morning.

21. Write an article or newsletter to send to your contacts. This promotes your business and helps you keep in touch with your contacts. You can easily do this electronically. My thought here is to launch a blog or create an ezine that you send to a list of emails you collect regularly. Our team can help you with this.

22. Send gifts. Remember those who help you, or just remember a special occasion for those in your network. Develop a list of reliable vendors of unique gift items for these occasions. Stock up on small things that are lovely but not expensive for this. When an editor publishes your work, you get a cover, an industry VIP does you a favor, send them a little something. You'll never be forgotten. Holiday gifts are a good idea too, especially to trade editors, industry VIPs, etc. Again, we're not talking bribe-worthy, just kindness-spreading.

23. Use premiums that constantly remind the recipients of your name and your business. Look for useful items that will be appreciated and that will keep your name in front of others. Same as above.

24. Follow up within twenty-four hours of a meeting to say, "Nice to meet you," "thanks for your time and consideration," and to set another meeting.

25. Call within two weeks of suggesting another meeting. "Let's do lunch" is not an effective networking technique. Make it happen.

26. Send materials or information promised on time or sooner than promised. Have press kits premade and stuffed in envelopes so that you only need to add a cover letter to get them out. You know if you had to prep one each time you need it - you're likely to blow it off.

27. Thank your contact for a referral and let them know what happened. Again, send one of those little gifts if that referral leads to a sale or something else significant.

28. Become a resource for others. Give generously of your time and expertise.

29. Look for unique and creative ways to have "face" time with others. Try having coffee, afternoon tea, taking a walk or run, getting a manicure, shopping, meeting at the sky club between flights, or meeting at an art gallery.

30. Remember birthdays and send cards. Find out the birthday month of each of your contacts, make a list of contacts by birthday month, and send out cards once a month to those on the month's list. Facebook is a great resource for this.

31. Develop a system to keep in touch with everyone in your network on a regular basis. As your list grows, divide it into categories and have a contact plan for each category.

32. Review your list on a regular basis and "clean out" those contacts who are, for whatever reason, are no longer in your life.

33. Develop and maintain a database of your contacts. It need not be "high tech" it can be on 3 x 5 index cards. Your system should work for you, you should not have to work for your system.

34. Collect information about each contact besides the basic contact information. This includes interests, family, awards and promotions, special dates, how you met, and other pertinent facts.

35. Determine the way each contact prefers to communicate: phone, e-mail, in person. Note this on their database record.

36. Make and keep notes about each meeting with each contact. Refer to these when following up or before the next contact with them.

37. Have a system for filing business cards. As an active net worker, you will collect many. Enter the information into your network database and then file the card depending upon how you plan to use it in the future.

38. Enter information about a new contact and follow up within 24 hours of your meeting.

39. Answer your phone and e-mail messages within 24 hours even when you are on the road. With today's modern technology, there is no reason not to be in touch.

40. If you are out of touch for a period, let people know with a message on your phone and an automatic e-mail message.

41. Everyday, send an email to someone in your Internet address book you have not heard from recently.

42. Once a week, go through your contact list and call three people just to say "hello."

43. Once a month, have lunch with a friend, colleague, or client you have not seen for a while.

44. At a company function, set a goal to sit next to someone new and get to know them.

45. When making telephone calls is uncomfortable, use a script and practice until it comes naturally.

46. Begin with a compliment. This is a wonderful way to start a conversation when you may not know what to say to break the ice.

47. When a conversation gets off the topic you want to talk about, use a "bridge" such as, "that reminds me of&" to get back to your topic.

48. Attend meetings with a purpose. Have a specific goal in mind when attending an industry event or other networking meeting. It could be just to meet the speaker, or someone else you know will be there.

49. Set a time limit.
When spending an entire meeting with a group of strangers seems daunting, give yourself permission to leave after a specific time, say one hour.

50. When eye contact is difficult, set your gaze at the 'third eye" -- a spot just above the bridge of the nose between the eyes.

51. Network on the Internet. Online networking is a new and efficient way to establish relationships with those in your field.

52. Give yourself a reward for networking success-- whether for attending an event for an hour, or landing a new job as a result of a networking contact. You deserve it!


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