The Loner: It’s never a good idea to isolate yourself when presented with an opportunity to network. Socialize. (And that doesn’t include hiding out in a corner with a drink, tweetingfriends and family.) If you’re shy and are afraid to break the ice, Felicia Joy, entrepreneur and host of The Miss CEOShow, recommends making a statement with clothing or accessories. Incorporate a tasteful piece of bold jewelry or tie that might spark a conversation.
The Social Media-Phobe: Get in the game and make it work for you. “Social media has made [networking] easier because it allows you to develop relationships and build trust automatically via the Web,” Joy says. Be strategic about Twitterfollowers, LinkedIn connections, and Facebook friends. Also, it’s good to include your Twitter handle or Facebook link on business cards and in e-mail signature lines. “If it’s good for big corporations to do, then clearly it’s good for small businesses and individuals to do.”
The Pushy Brown Noser: Build a rapport before shoving a resume/business plan in the hands of someone you’ve just met. “It comes across as very insincere and pushy,” Joy says. Have small interactions such as an e-mail including an article link of interest before asking for leads or partnerships. “You want to give the person a sense of who you are and find out more about them. This allows you to determine whether you even want to connect with them further.”
The Quota-Filler: “Don’t cast your net too wide. It’s about quality of the connections, not quantity,” Joy says. Think about what kind of person with what kind of background you’d like to interact with–one who relates most with your field or interests. “You’ve got to keep those interactions going, and if you have too many, it can be hard to manage. It’s so much easier to keep up with a small pool of people every four to six weeks versus 20 to 50.”
The Follow-Up Slacker: If you’ve met someone of interest, be prompt in following up with them, so you will remain on their radar. “Always say thank you or nice to meet you, and send a follow-up e-mail at least 24 hours after meeting,” Joy advises. Special touch: a monogrammed thank you card or item related to your industry. “Depending on your budget, send something that is memorable or branded with your company logo or name as a reminder of who you are.”