This is a follow up to my previous post about networking and authenticity.
Image credits (c) Michaeldb | Dreamstime.com
Have you ever been mistaken for a server or staff member of an establishment before? That can irk anyone, no? It shouldn’t though. People make these honest mistakes all the time. It is nothing to be ashamed of. I almost toppled over a lady with my shopping cart around the corner of a supermarket isle earlier today. She was so gracious, and I think she was the first one to say ‘excuse me’. Hopefully, I too apologised.
The situation was rather embarrassing that I may have bagged my manners together with my groceries and sped off into the opposite direction. I met her again at the fresh produce aisle and because I had concluded that she worked in the store, I started to create my next gaffe by asking her about something that was not on the self but caught myself before I could complete my quest to get information. She was surprisingly pleasant and polite saying, ‘It is okay. I shop here regularly because I am a chef, so perhaps I could still help you? What are you looking for?’ She was absolutely a heaven-sent because our brief conversation led to us talking about what kind of chef she is and whether she caters for parties and yes she does. So, guess who will be catering for our housewarming party?
Moral of the story, networking should not always be planned, rehearsed, flat and robotic, it can be a natural, interactive and business enhancing activity just by being authentic (and polite). The lady in the grocery store pitched her brand without planning to do so and got some business out of it and I will spread the word once we have tried her victuals.
On the other hand, if you are deliberately attending a networking event, Diane Hudson suggests the following practical tips. Perhaps, you may be inspired by one tip or more:
- Always wear slacks, a skirt (or a dress), or jacket with two pockets—one for your business cards and one for collecting business cards. Some schools of thought are of the view that business cards are redundant. Personally, I never leave home without mine.
- Carry a pen to write notes on the back of a card. Or carry a small note book with you.
- Go alone, become comfortable approaching strangers, build relationships (do not sell right away).
- Accept every invitation you receive, no matter how insignificant it seems to you.
Get out there, talk to people and enjoy networking!