Top Tips for Networking


Networking. Simple enough term right? Perhaps, perhaps not. You may be surprised to know that there is an art to effective networking, and many professionals will tell you it’s about more than putting a name to a face. At our latest member roundtable, we were lucky enough to have a few exceptional networkers, including Fort Worth’s own Mayor Betsy Price, and former Star Telegram journalist, Bruce Raben, share best practices and interpersonal communication tips when trying to grow your professional network.


Look for key indicators of a common interest with someone you’re approaching to network with and utilize that commonality to promote a relaxed conversation. Ice breakers help open dialogue and are a great tool for building relationships for potential partnerships or clients. An example of a simple ice breaker could be, “I noticed your class ring is TCU, I am also an alumnus and proud supporter of the Frogs!”


Before diving straight into a sales or partnership pitch, work on developing a mutual understanding of each other. Be patient and let the relationship evolve into something that could lead to a business solution for both parties. A potential client or referral source is much more likely to accept a meeting request once they can recognize a relationship is forming and not merely  a profit source.


Although it is very common to network at business meetings, leads groups, trade shows or conferences, it is less common to network to everyday groups that aren’t centered around business, such as, a friends birthday celebration, sporting events, church, or even at your children’s school PTA meetings. Each moment you interact with new individuals provides an open door for networking, whether it’s in a blazer and slacks or T-shirts and shorts. As Mayor Price says, “Think about every group you belong to as an opportunity for networking.”


“The best way to network is to know exactly what others need,” says Bruce Raben. If there is one great trait that all proficient networkers share, it is the ability to listen and learn in order to find out what others are in need of. By understanding their needs, you quickly become a resource rather than simply a connection for them, and now your impression is memorable.


A sure way to achieve a proper thank you is by remembering this helpful tip from Mayor Price, “Three lines, Three minutes, Three days.” Make your message short and sweet, no more than three lines so that it takes no more than three minutes to read and drop it in the mail within three days of meeting that particular individual. Another item to consider when sending a thank you is handwritten and mailed with a stamp. Email is great, but when it comes down to showing appreciation, a card delivered speaks volumes.

Try new methods and give yourself time to implement simple tips like these. Effective networking can be achieved by anyone and in a world where everything else seems to focus online, developing a greater business and personal network can always be successfully established offline, face to face.

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