Tips for Your Networking Tool Kit

Tips for Your Networking Tool Kit

Tips for your Took KitThere are several must-haves in any networking tool kit, regardless of your job or your goals for networking. These tools will help you to prepare for and make the most of networking opportunities.
Business Cards
Business cards are the most important tool in your networking toolbox. Carry your cards with you at all times; you never know when you’ll meet someone new or run into an old acquaintance, and your card is an easy way to establish a connection. Networking opportunities happen in all sorts of environments, beyond actual business functions, even at the grocery store and your child’s soccer games.

In addition to containing the pertinent contact information, business cards are an opportunity to make a positive impression. They help someone develop interest in your company or services; they set you apart; and they give you the chance to reinforce your personal brand. Make sure your card looks professionally designed and produced and that it contains your most recent, accurate information. And keep it brief- it’s a business card, not a brochure!

The purpose of wearing a nametag at an event is to facilitate conversations. Knowing someone’s name and who they work for leads to a comfortable way to open a conversation. One could easily begin with “Hi, Bill, I have a friend that works for Exxon,” or “Mary, I have not heard of The Hill Group. What does your company do?” When people choose not wear nametags or if the text is incomplete, messy or too small, they are missing the point of these tools.
Keep these tips in mind for the next time you write your own nametag at an event:

1. Make it legible. Print clearly and neatly.
2. Make it informative. Include your first and last name, with your company name underneath. Be sure to use the version of your company’s name that most people will recognize, avoiding internal nicknames or initials if they are not widely known.
3. Make it visible. Wear your nametag where it can be seen – not on your belt or down near your hip. If you are wearing a jacket, do not place it inside on your shirt. The best place is on your right shoulder, as when you are shaking hands with someone it is a natural line of sight along the outstretched arm to the shoulder.

A Personal Tag Line
It is not uncommon for people to stumble when answering simple questions like, “What do you do?” or “What does your company do?” While you certainly know the answer, verbalizing it in a clear, compelling and concise manner is a bigger challenge.

There are two keys to developing an effective personal tag line. The first is to really think about the question of whom you are and what you do, and compose an answer that is relevant yet different. Avoid industry jargon or long, overly technical explanations as you will often meet people who know nothing about your line of work. Your goal is to find an original description of what you do, for whom you do it, and why.

The second key to success with a personal tag line is to rehearse it to the point that it flows naturally. As you wrestle with a unique way to talk about your job and your company, try writing different versions down on paper. This will help you refine your ideas. Practice your tag line with your spouse, friends or co-workers and get their feedback. Your goal is to deliver relevant information while capturing the interest of a new contact; think of it as a headline to a fascinating news story.

Letters and emails
One of the best ways to follow-up with someone and begin to build a relationship is to send them a short handwritten note. In today’s electronic world, a handwritten note has become rare, and thus more memorable. Get some high quality fold-over cards with your logo, name or initials and use them often!

Consider also sending correspondence that will really set you apart. If, for example, you read an article that features or even just mentions a person that you know well, clip this article and send it to them with a note. They will be flattered that you took the time to personally pass it on to them. It is also effective to send an article you read that a member of your network would find interesting.

Following-up with an email is often the quickest and most effective way to reach out after meeting someone, but you do run the risk of your email getting lost in SPAM or in the many emails that person receives each day. If you do send an email, keep it brief, reminding them about where and when you met, and suggesting or confirming next steps (e.g., “Per our discussion I will follow-up with you next month to schedule a meeting.”) Do not include pages of information or attach a PDF brochure. A follow up email is not a solicitation for business, but rather a way to convey how much you enjoyed your meeting.

Before you attend your next networking event, take a peek in your networking tool kit and make sure you have everything you need!

Written originally for w2wlink by Marny Lifshen.