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Network Your Way To Personal Success -

By Janice B. Gonzalez

The key to taking advantage of significant networking opportunities is to improve your interpersonal communication skills. Knowing how to start, how to continue and how to end interesting and sincere conversations will help you circulate among people with ease and confidence.

Try the following suggestions the next time you’re invited to a function. Keep in mind that every event can be made productive if you give it a little thought before you go. Planning in advance will enable you to approach any social function with enthusiasm and purpose.

1. Prepare some short briefing notes for yourself prior to the event. Review WHO will be attending? WHO is sponsoring it? WHAT is the purpose of the event? WHAT is the background information regarding the sponsoring agency? WHEN does it commence? WHEN can I depart? WHERE will it be held? WHERE do I park?

2. Think specifically about the benefits of attending – both professional and personal. List them. Then commit yourself to them. The benefits may vary from event to event. Clarify in your mind how you might benefit prior to attending.

3. Develop and practice your self introduction. It should be clear, concise, distinctive and engaging. It should be tied into the event in some way with a connecting statement. For example, at a wedding reception: “Hello! I’m Janice Gonzalez. I’m a long time friend of the mother of the bride.”

4. Practice your handshake. It should be a firm clasp that joins palm to palm, not finger to finger. Keep in mind that your handshake always makes an impression on others. It is a significant indicator of competence and confidence.

5. Prepare your small talk in advance. Read up on local and national issues. Come prepared with at least three pieces of conversation. When stuck for something to talk about, positive comments about the function, the facility or the food will always be appropriate.

6. Make yourself a more interesting person to be around by reading more and increasing your vocabulary. But read good literature – books related to the history of the area in which you live, motivational books, books about famous people.

7. Make yourself more visible! Volunteer your services on a church committee or community organization. Join a service club. Place yourself in a position where you can not only meet new people, but also contribute to make your community a better place.

8. Listen to others actively – not passively. Look people in the eye when talking to them. Nod, smile and ask relevant questions. Focus your full attention on the reactions, feelings and words of the other person and not on your own thoughts. Be in the moment with them!

9. Adopt a mind set that willingly offers help to others – without expectations. Incorporate the important questions, “How can I help you?” and “What can I do for you?” into your regular conversations. Think about what strengths you have to offer others. Build a powerful momentum with your life that leads to people being helped by you.

10. Have your business card ready to hand out, especially when asked for it. The exchange of business cards is particularly effective when it follows a meaningful conversation.

11. Regularly collect business cards from new contacts. Write relevant comments on the back as soon as possible regarding date, conversation and follow-up strategy. Then make sure you follow up!

12. The value of networking contacts is diminished if you neglect to implement an appropriate follow-up procedure. Whether by phone, fax, personal appointment, or a hand written note, make sure to follow up on your networking contacts. Keep accurate records of contacts by using a personalized documentation method that works well for you.

Remember to approach every new contact with an open mind and an open heart. You never know where each new relationship may lead. Doors will be opened . . . friendships gained . . . your life will be greatly enriched.

Copyright © 2016 JBG Communications