By Danielle Cuomo, MBA, President

Networking groups do not work for 90% of the people who attend or join. If you’re not going to network right – don’t do it at all. The odds are against you.

In the beginning, I built this business through networking – and I learned that networking is NOT about collecting business cards and burying them on your desk.

DO:

  • Be a giver. “Giver’s gain.” I recently picked up several issues of the Coaches’ Association magazine. I sent them, with a short note and my business card, to coaching contacts I met at a recent event held at Duquesne University. Each called me to thank me for thinking of them and providing them with real information – and 3 of them signed up to be clients!
  • Mind your manners: When a contact that I meet has their address on their business card or website – I always send  a hand written note. I received so many favorable comments from this activity. In fact, in my local networking circle, members often point out that I am “the note girl!”
  • Trust: Though you may speak to someone who will never buy your product – chances are, if they like you – they will refer you.
  • Ask: If you seek information from contacts about what they do, you will learn more about their industry and what they need. For example, I love to work with a certain industry group. I always ask what they think their industry needs, what the trends are, what important events/conferences are coming up, etc.

DO NOT:

  • Talk to everyone. Everyone is not a potential customer or referral for you. Spend more targeted time truly getting to know 3-5 people.
  • Sell Anything. Networking is not about selling your product or services to everyone that you meet. Frankly, it’s tacky. If the potential client or referrer gets to know you – and not what you sell – they are more likely to buy from you.
  • Talk about how busy you are. This is a big reason that potential referrers do not refer business to you – because you tell them how busy you are! Certainly you want to sound successful, but make comments such as “There is always room for more,” or “I have a solid practice now, but I am searching for more clients.”