Networking expert Karen Susman offers five tips on how to make the most of your opportunities:
MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION Be accessible and approachable. Before leaving home, have a friend or family member look at your face and tell you if you look approachable and open. Many of us have a natural scowl on our face without even realizing it. Show interest in others by making eye contact, using the person’s name, asking questions, listening, and responding. Being shy is one obstacle some feel prevent them from networking, but you don’t have to be interesting, just interested. You can start conversations by talking about your employer and job responsibilities. Also, reveal something about yourself, but stay away from doing all the talking (or all the listening). Be positive.
FOLLOW UP AND KEEP IN TOUCH Before saying goodbye, always ask for the other person’s business card. Consider having your own cards printed in more than one language, especially if you have customers who speak a different language.
Stay in touch by sending a handwritten note or an e-mail message, or by telephoning. Keep in contact by sending newspaper or magazine articles that might be of interest to the person.
BE MORE VISIBLE Become active by attending conferences and teleseminars. Get noticed by asking the speaker questions. You also can write articles for industry publications or technical journals in your area of expertise. Consider offering to teach what you’ve learned to others in your company. Finally, volunteer at organizations.
LEARN ABOUT NEW CULTURES When networking with people from other cultures, research the differences between yours and theirs. Adjust your ways if they are not in line with the norms of that culture. Behaving conservatively, using straightforward language, and not being too loud are all ways to enhance your networking experience with those from other cultures.
MAKE AN ACTION PLAN Write down the steps you plan to take to increase your networking abilities and scope, and apply the advice given at the seminar.
Don't forget to try these new skills out at First Thursday tonight in Bethlehem.
Resources that can be of help to you, according to Susman, are The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cultural Etiquette, by Carol Turkington (Alpha Books, 1999), and “Behave Yourself: The Essential Guide to International Etiquette,” by Michael Powell (Globe Pequot Press, 2005). Two Web sites that offer cultural guidance are http://www.executiveplanet.com and http://www.cyborlink.com.